Trashing the planet for commercial advantage

Carwyn Jones has today said that he would scrap long-haul Air Passenger Duty if it were to be devolved to Wales.

I agree that control of this tax (and, for me, all other taxes) should be devolved to Wales, but I certainly don't agree with the idea that it should be scrapped. APD was introduced to reflect the fact that aviation fuel isn't (and probably can't be) taxed in the same way as other fossil fuels, so it is designed to provide a similar "disincentive" to unnecessary fossil fuel use, because the emissions have an adverse affect on climate change.

Of course there would be a commercial advantage for Wales if (to use the most quoted example) flights from Cardiff were cheaper than flights from Bristol. But that's rather like saying that there would be a commercial advantage for Wales if companies in Wales were able to dump toxic waste directly into rivers, or didn't need to recycle. Taking care of the environment costs money, but it's something that we need to do for the sake of the planet.


That said, I think that there are more subtle ways of using the devolved tax that could better achieve the aim of reducing unnecessary flights, while still giving Wales a competitive advantage. For example, the tax could be applied on an individual basis so that, say, the first two flights a person makes in any year were charged at a low rate, but the tax would then rise progressively with each additional flight so that a person flying six times a year would end up paying much very more than they do now.

As well as the environmental benefits, such a tax would also be progressive in that it would target richer people who are more able to afford it, rather than those who are just flying off for a couple of weeks' holiday once a year.

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