Steps have been taken towards the abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland – a development which has been welcomed by Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.
The first meeting of the Scottish Air Passenger Duty (APD) stakeholder forum took place recently, chaired by Deputy First Minister John Sweeney MSP and Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown MSP.
Mr MacNeil has been involved in a long campaign to devolve APD to the Scottish Parliament and this forms part of the ongoing debate on the Scotland Bill.
In figures obtained by Mr MacNeil from the House of Commons Library earlier this year, it was revealed that £3.8 million was paid in APD by passengers flying to the Western Isles between 2011 and 2013.
Although flights from the Western Isles are not charged Air Passenger Duty, flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness to the Western Isles are subject to APD.
Mr MacNeil MP said: “A reduction in APD would be very welcome indeed. This development is good news and one step closer to reducing and ultimately getting rid of this tax, but we do need the powers to do this to be passed on by Westminster and that is what I will be arguing the case for along with my SNP colleagues.”
He added: “Cutting APD will cause a growth in the economy and other tax revenues. Unfortunately while it will be the Scottish Government funding the APD cut, the extra other taxes that result from this sensible plan go to London.
“Clearly while the Scottish Government is doing its best to help the Scottish economy this would be more easily stimulated if Scotland had full control of its taxes.”
The Scottish Government has made a commitment to cutting APD by 50 per cent during the lifetime of the next parliament. There will also be a policy consultation launched on Scottish APD this autumn.
Last year the Smith Commission recommended that power to control APD should be devolved to Holyrood via the Scotland Bill, which is currently being considered at Westminster.
The APD stakeholder forum brings together interested parties – from those in the aviation industry to environmental groups and tax practitioners – to provide expert input into how a replacement tax could work.