Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today accused SNP Ministers of choosing to “stifle island businesses” following confirmation that the Scottish Government will not reinstate the Air Discount Scheme for island businesses.
The Air Discount Scheme was introduced in 2006 by then Liberal Democrat Transport Minister and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, reducing the cost for islanders of accessing lifeline air services.
While the scheme has continued since then, in 2011 the SNP Government decided to remove all business-related travel from being eligible for the support, by increasing travel costs for many isles-based businesses. To add insult to injury, this decision was taken with no prior consultation.
Last year Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) and island councils called on the government to reintroduce ADS for business travel from the islands.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"Since ADS was introduced by Tavish Scott back in 2006, it has played a vital role in enabling our island communities to remain better connected by cutting the cost of accessing our lifeline air services.
“The SNP’s decision in 2011 to cut ADS for business travel went against the grain of its founding principles, denying our island businesses a level playing field. The SNP were wrong to take this decision at the time, without any consultation, and are wrong now to ignore the compelling case for a long overdue u-turn.
“Despite the SNP government's refusal to lift this burden on island businesses, I will continue to make the case for a re-think. Ministers cannot be allowed to get away with stifling local businesses in this way".