Highland Council supports UK Air Passenger Duty exemption for flights departing Highlands & Islands
27th June 2019
Highland Councillors have unanimously agreed that the Council will support the continuation of the exemption from UK Air Passenger Duty for flights departing from airports in the Highlands & Islands; and Members also agreed that the Council will continue working with HiTRANS to present the case of the need for, and benefit arising from an exemption from the current UK Air Passenger Duty and any successor duty.
The Council's stance comes this week as calls have been made by Aberdeen Airport for greater parity with Highlands & Islands.
Members were informed in a report to a meeting of The Highland Council today (27 June) that the Scottish Government announced on 7 May 2019 that reducing the Air Departure Tax was no longer compatible with Scotland's new emissions reduction targets. The Scottish Government confirmed that they have agreed with the UK Government that the introduction of the Air Departure Tax would be deferred beyond April 2020 to ensure it was properly devolved and that a solution was found to the Highlands and Islands exemption to protect rural communities.
The Scottish Government have advised that "Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and our position on the existing exemption is unchanged - it must remain in place to protect remote and rural communities." The Scottish Government therefore have committed to continue to work with the UK Government and the Air Departure Tax Highlands and Islands Working Group to find a solution. In the meantime, the UK Government will maintain the application of Air Passenger Duty in Scotland, including the exemption for Highlands and Islands.
Convener Cllr Bill Lobban said: "The Highlands must remain affordable and competitive in its air connections with the rest of the world. Air links are vital to business and tourism and good connectivity is fundamental to building a thriving rural economy."
Cllr Andrew Jarvie added: "It’s taken three decades of hard work to get Inverness airport the connectivity it has with six daily flights to global hubs - you can fly from Inverness to any continent in the world with one ticket and one stop. This has opened Inverness to the world and any threat would only take us backwards."
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government's Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest. COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
A study is underway into the feasibility of replacing Scotland's second busiest ferry service with a fixed link bridge or tunnel. The Highland Council, HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are joint funding the study at the Corran Narrows in Lochaber.
The standstill period under the Council's Trades Services Framework agreement was due to close with effect from Monday 17th February 2020, with the intention of a proposed go live date with the new arrangements and contracts of 24th February. The standstill period is a defined period of time between the notice of the contract award decision and the award of the contract.
On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.` Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role. Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
The Highland Council has published the Highland Common Good Asset Register following the completion of a consultation process required by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Register has been published on the Council's website and can be accessed from the download link on the page titled "Common Good Asset Register" or at the following link: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20010/community_planning/840/common_good_asset_register For ease of reference, the Register has been divided in the separate former Burghs having recorded Common Good Funds - Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain.
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year. 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million.
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