Leader comment: We need a debate on Air Passenger Duty

A consultation on Air Passenger Duty is being launched by the Scottish Government.
A consultation on Air Passenger Duty is being launched by the Scottish Government.
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EDINBURGH Airport is flying high at the moment. Record passenger figures and a multi-million pound redevelopment have left it ideally placed to take advantage of the economic recovery.

Turnhouse is now Scotland’s busiest airport and has no intention of slowing down as it bids to attract new routes.

A successful airport makes a successful city and so it’s good news all round.

Or is it?

Expansion at the airport will inevitably set off alarm bells among the environmental lobby, while as we know from the recent controversial flight path trial, any increase in airport activity is likely to be opposed by some local residents.

It is the difficult balancing act which the airport, Scottish Government, and city council faces when growing Scotland’s capital.

Grow it must, but not at the expense of all else.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney’s consultation on plans to halve and eventually abolish Air Passenger Duty will be welcomed by business and airport leaders.

Slashing tax on passengers will inevitably mean more flights and as the capital that will result in an increase in traffic for Edinburgh.

More tourists means more money being spent in the city.

And it also opens up new destinations from Edinburgh for all of us.

But then we do have the responsibility to look after our environment and the quality of life of people across the Lothians.

Others point out the gamble of losing £230m in Air Passenger Duty for an “optimistic promise” of future wealth creation.

This is the debate which must be had as we consider how Edinburgh’s economy is going to grow for the benefit of all of us, and we don’t pretend to have the answer.

You’ll be hearing a lot about Air Passenger Duty over the coming months.