Tomorrow’s Sunday newspapers have been leaked details of Tory plans to increase taxation of air travel in a bid to reduce the industry’s (alleged) escalating contribution to climate change.  The News of the World is apparently planning to talk of "four massive new taxes" when, according to CCHQ, the four tax options are only under consideration as part of a consultation on the future of aviation taxation.

According to the Press Association the Tory tax options include:

  • The immediate imposition of fuel duty and/ or VAT on domestic flights (Tim Yeo has previously called for rail transport to progressively replace domestic air travel);
  • The replacement of Gordon Brown’s very controversial air passenger duty with a per-flight tax based more closely on actual carbon emissions;
  • The introduction of an annual ‘green air miles allowance’ so that frequent flyers pay a higher rate of taxation (so protecting poorer families from a heavy tax on their annual summer holiday).

The public is divided on air taxation and, unlike Labour, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has promised that the overall tax burden will not be increased.  Higher green taxes will be offset by reduced taxes on families and businesses.  Commenting on tonight’s leaked news he told PA:

"I do not agree with those who argue that we need to stop flying altogether if we are to tackle climate change.  However, I believe the case for acting now to reduce the future growth in greenhouse gas emissions from aviation is compelling.  In particular, air passenger duty is not directly linked to carbon emissions and provides no incentives for airlines to use more fuel-efficient aircraft.  I want to consult with the industry, with environmental groups, and with the public in order to create a sustainable regime of aviation taxation that has broad support."

8pm update: THE NEWS OF THE WORLD STORY IS NOW ONLINE.  Here is a key extract: "The Tories will this week unveil plans to hammer frequent flyers with massive new taxes.  The News of the World can reveal tonight that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne will unveil FOUR massive new taxes.  The Tories say the radical new plans are the first step in a complete revolution which makes people pay more tax when they harm the environment.  But the airline industry said the plans would lead to sky-high ticket prices."

Editor’s comment: "The NotW story does appear to have jumped the gun. Mr Osborne is talking about different options for green taxes.  The NotW appears to suggest that all four taxes are about to become Tory policy."

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