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.

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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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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some of the few sensible sounding comments on the BBC item on this report suggest that the Bistol aspect of the story is a red herring. Bristol's runway is too short for long haul flights and the visibility at point of landing is not great. The runway also appears to have significant numbers of heavy landings that result in damage to planes.Environmentally there could be a marginal advantage if South Wales and Bristol passengers no longer go to Heathrow and us a more local airport.

Anonymous said...

Five years ago NI had the tax devolved and ditched it for long haul flights. Thus has resulted in a big increase in tourism. Similar powers have been given to Scotland. Very little impact on Bristol according to most recent research.
Just another example where the Tories are not interested in developing the Welsh economy. Add this to electrification of the Swansea Cardiff line and back peddling on the Swansea barrage. With Mrs May's minority government the 9 Tory MPs could make a real difference if they were prepared to stand up for their constituencies.

Michael Haggett said...

There could be a marginal advantage, 21:25. But it's rather tenuous and all hinges around how people get to the airport. I think it's statistically more likely that flights from one airport (Heathrow) will better utilized (i.e. have fewer empty seats and therefore result in lower emissions per head) than separate fights from Cardiff, Bristol and Heathrow.

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If tourism is the issue, 23:56, then the taxation scheme I've outlined (low charge for the first flights, but getting progressively higher with each subsequent flight) will be better for tourists than the current arrangement and therefore boost tourism to Wales. The environmental aim is to discourage frequent flights, not occasional flights.

If the Tories are the issue, then I'd tend to agree with you.

leiafee said...

Interesting. I've always gone with the default position of "Wales should control it's own APD so we can manipulate it for commercial advantage - and pretty much poo-pooed the environmental aspects. But you make a good point and I like the subtlety of the incremental tax there too. With the amount of data tracking available these days it should be easier than ever to implement.

'Anonymous' is right in that Cardiff is actually in some ways a BETTER airport than Bristol - longer runways, more consistent weather - there's a reason it ends up being a diversion airport almost more often than a destination!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it great that the matter of Catalan independence has seemingly died a somewhat agonising death. No longer a place of prosperity the once 'independence hungry' youth are now fleeing the region in search of gainful employment in the soon to be wealthier parts of Spain.

And yet not a word about this on this website. Interesting.

Michael Haggett said...

What a strange fantasy world you live in, 10:27.

Be patient. I'll say something as and when things unfold.

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