Government poised to announce partial climbdown on air discount scheme

The Scottish government is believed to be re-examining last year’s decision to cut charitable organisations from the Air Discount Scheme – although business representatives will still have to pay full whack when they fly down south.

It is thought ministers are preparing to unveil a revised ADS which will see the popular 40 per cent discount re-introduced for voluntary groups.

The move appears to confirm claims made earlier this month that steps to limit ADS were initiated by the Scottish government, and not by Europe, as has been repeatedly stated.

Charities and businesses were excluded from the scheme a year ago in April after Holyrood insisted the European Commission intended the scheme to be for individuals only. That provoked anger among some members of the business community and voluntary sector.

Isles MSP Tavish Scott, who was responsible for introducing ADS as transport minister in 2006, welcomed the move as far as it went. But he insisted concern remained about businesses still being left out of ADS.

“It’s not going to stop us making the case [for businesses] because I have had plenty of business constituents who have said this has had an impact on their approach to promoting their business and, therefore, jobs in Shetland and the local economy.

“The case for it was very good in 2006 and it’s still very good in 2012, so we’ll keep on making it.”

Recently The Shetland Times reported on a Freedom of Information submission by Labour MSP David Stewart, which showed it was St Andrews House – and not Brussels – that was responsible for imposing the restrictions.

Mr Scott said there was “no question whatsoever” that Holyrood had decided to make the cut in the first place.

“The European Commission cleared ADS in 2006. They approved it again when the SNP’s Stewart Stevenson sought approval for it, but the Scottish government decided to cut it under the current regime.”


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