Isn’t there a greener and fairer way to travel in the UK?

UK train travel

Just one day after receiving advice from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to “take further action to discourage people from flying”; The government announced changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD) which could result in approximately 410,000 more short-haul UK passenger journeys a year (according to a forecast by The Office for Budget responsibility). Instead, couldn’t there have been measures to stimulate rail travel?

When other European countries are announcing measures to reduce internal flights, the move seems counterintuitive and may undermine the nation’s position at the COP26 climate discussions. 

At the same time a new “ultra-long-haul band” of APD has been added to flights over 5,500 miles, which a Treasury consultation document argues will “reinforce the ‘polluter pays principle’ by ensuring those who travel furthest internationally and have the greatest impact on the environment incur most APD”

Is an individual who makes one long-haul flight a year really more of a “polluter” than someone who foregoes train rides in favour of ten cheap internal flights a year? 

Would it not have been fairer to introduce a levy on frequent flyers, than to penalise those taking infrequent long-haul flights, on routes where no alternative transportation is viable?

We realise that there are winners and losers with any announcement on tax changes and many will see the move as necessary to promote the recovery of the UK economy. But, this feels like a missed opportunity to promote a ‘green recovery’. 

We’d love to hear the views of others in the travel industry, please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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