Poll: A quarter of Scots support SNP plan to cut air taxes
Only a fifth of those questioned said they thought the Scottish Government’s plans for a new Air Departure Tax (ADT) should be a priority, the Survation poll of more than 1,000 Scots found.
More than 60 per cent said they favoured more money being spent on public transport instead, according to the survey commissioned by the Scottish Greens.
When those who did not express a view were removed, the proportion in favour of greater public transport spending increased to 75 per cent, with only 25 per cent backing the ADT policy.
The new levy will replace Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is levied on all commercial flights from UK airports, starting at about £13 per person for short-haul trips to Europe.
Its replacement is due to be introduced in April. The Scottish Government is committed to cutting the duty by 50 per cent by the end of the current Parliament, with a view to abolishing it entirely.
Ministers believe that the UK’s high rates of APD discourages airlines from using the country’s airports, depriving the Scottish economy of a potentially major stream of income.
However, critics of the policy believe that cutting air taxes will undermine Scotland’s green reputation and do little to improve the lives of most passengers.
Previous research by the Greens estimated that the cut will benefit wealthy frequent fliers by £850 a year, while a couple taking their children on an annual holiday will only save £16.
The party’s co-convener Patrick Harvie said the Scottish Government’s plans would do “irrevocable damage” to the environment and would effectively hand a tax break to the well off.
“Under scrutiny in parliament, neither ministers nor the industry were able provide a shred of evidence to back up their belief that this tax cut will have positive benefits that will trickle down to the rest of society. Now ministers can see just how out of step they are with public opinion,” he added.
“Rather than listening to the aviation industry lobbyists, ministers need to listen to the public, cancel their proposed tax cut and step up investment in the buses, trains and bike lanes we all need.”
He added that the Greens would refuse to support the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2018/19 if it pressed ahead with cuts to air taxes. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is due to set out the draft spending plans on 14 December.
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.