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Scottish Budget: Regressive aviation tax cut proposals undermine improved transport plans

Published 14 December 2017 by Transform Scotland

The Scottish Government has today revealed its draft budget for 2018-19.

Among the key announcements for the transport budget were:

  • A continued commitment to cut Air Passenger Duty
  • Bus budget increased by £14.7 million
  • Ferry services budget increased by £59.5 million
  • Roads budget decreased by £135.5 million
  • Rail budget increased by £33.0 million
  • Doubling of active travel budget to £80 million, promising “safe segregated walking and cycling infrastructure in towns and cities across Scotland”.

Commenting on the budget announcement, Jamie Wylie, spokesperson for Transform Scotland, commented:

We’re pleased to see greater priority for sustainable transport in the new budget, but the continued commitment to aviation tax cuts undermines the budget’s sustainability credentials.

It’s highly disappointing that the Government are continuing their commitment to a regressive tax cut for the aviation industry. A £300m annual tax giveaway is nearly double the £164m which the Government expects to raise through increased income tax revenue.

“Whilst it’s good to see a modest increase in investment for buses and rail, investment in these modes has only increased by 3% and 4% respectively since 2012-13, whereas roads spending has increased by 9% over this period.

We’re pleased to see active travel investment being doubled in the budget. However, ‘Sustainable and Active Travel’ remains only 3.2% of overall transport budget. To get more people physically active, reduce congestion, cut air pollution and transform town centres, we need to see much more investment in walking and cycling.

Whilst it’s good to see LEZs being promoted, the budget provides no clarity on what financial support will be given to local authorities to support their introduction. This needs to be set out clearly to ensure that local authorities are well placed to implement LEZs.

The commitment of £35 million to support electric vehicle charging is welcome, but this remains a small fraction of the £831.5m roads budget. Much more action is needed to cut emissions from private cars, which have in fact risen in recent years.

The carbon accounting of the budget remains as useless as it has for the past decade. According to the carbon accounting, railways are more polluting than roads, which is clearly nonsense. The Scottish Government desperately need to overhaul this pointless exercise and deliver an honest carbon accounting of their infrastructure investments.”

 

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