Fine Gael TDs urged to cease campaign to reverse €10 travel tax
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP Friends of the Irish Environment has written to Fine Gael TDs asking them to cease efforts to repeal the Government’s €10 travel tax.
The group has also urged the TDs to withdraw their support for the State’s regional airports, on the grounds that air travel damages the environment.
The group says that as aviation fuel remains untaxed, there is a significant incentive to air travel. “In the absence of fuel taxes, the only way that we can control consumer behaviour is through airport and travel taxes,” the group said.
Friends of the Irish Environment also urged Fine Gael members to follow the recommendations of the McCarthy report in 2009 and end subsides for regional airports.
It said McCarthy’s recommendations had been foreseen by a DKM consultants report as far back as 2003 which also suggested abandoning the subsidies for regional airports.
The group said savings in the order of more then €86 million could be made by ending capital grants for regional airports, with a further €17 million a year from ending public service obligation (PSO) subsidies for airlines. In all, the group said dropping support for the airports and airlines would net an immediate €100 million.
The letter to TDs claims “public transport capacity to subsidise flights between Dublin and Derry, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock as well as Sligo, is illegal to all these destinations because these destinations now exceeds 30,000 seats per annum”.
The letter concludes: “We would urge you to consider your opposition on the air travel tax for these reasons and to support the DKM and McCarthy reports to demonstrate your fiscal and environmental responsibility.”
However Fine Gael spokeswoman on tourism Olivia Mitchell said the party was in favour of support for regional airports.
“We are an island, we need to get goods and tourists on and off the island and we need to do that largely by air,” she said.
Ms Mitchell said the party was concerned about climate change and the emissions caused by air travel but she said she believed other measures could be undertaken to mitigate the effects of this.
“Yes, we do think there are improvements being made to internal roads and railways all the time, but the travel tax in particular only applies to foreign travel; getting rid of it wouldn’t in any case affect the PSO subsidies for internal flights.”