Firstly – Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you managed to get into a…
- Consultation on APD
The Prime Minister, in a range of transport initiatives launched today (see below), has announced that the Government will launch a consultation this spring on reforming Air Passenger Duty tax in order to boost air transport connections within the UK. The Government will also be exploring new requirements to offset emissions and continue to decarbonise aviation
The consultation will include options to change the APD treatment for domestic flights, such as reintroducing a return leg exemption or creation of a new lower domestic rate and will look at the case for increasing the number of international distance bands.
- Ban On Commercial Evictions Extended
The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has announced that the Government has extended the ban on commercial evictions until to 30 June in order to help support businesses during the re-opening phase. In addition, the Government is also launched a call for evidence on commercial rents to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords. The call for evidence will also set out potential steps that government could take after 30 June, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by COVID-19. This call for evidence will inform a review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation later this year and will consider a broad range of issues including the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 Part II, different models of rent payment, and the impact of Coronavirus on the market.
- Accessing Green Spaces Safely
The guidance on public outdoor spaces that people can visit to exercise or to undertake outdoor recreation (such as having a picnic) has been updated. The current list is:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public and botanical gardens – whether or not you pay to enter them
- the grounds of a heritage site
- outdoor attractions at sculpture parks
- public playgrounds
- parks or village greens that have freely accessible sports equipment – such as football goals
It should be noted that people must minimise the amount of time they spend outside their home and should not travel outside their local area – so this does not allow daytrips to the seaside or to visit outdoor gardens and attractions outside their area.
- VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme
The VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme was launched on 23 February and allows businesses to:
- pay deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free
- choose the number of instalments, from 2 to 11 (depending on when the business joins the scheme join)
The guidance has been updated so that, from today, businesses on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme, can now join this scheme.
- Funding for London – Derry Route
The Government has announced that it will provide Loganair with £4.3 million to fund 13 return flights a week between City of Derry Airport and London Stansted for a period of two tears from 1 April 2021 in order to keep this route open.
- Union Connectivity Review
The Government announced the Union Connectivity Review last year. The purpose of the review being to consider:
- the quality and reliability of major connections across the UK
- likely current and future demand for transport links
- the environmental impact of policy options (including with regard to climate change)
- existing work completed by the government on cross-UK connectivity
Today, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, who is undertaking the review, published the interim report which sets out the following key issues. The ones with tourism implications are:
- Faster and higher capacity connections for passengers from HS2 to Scotland and North Wales, and consequently better freight capacity too
- Higher capacity and faster journey times to and from Scotland from England and Wales and Newcastle by rail (East Coast Main Line) and road (A1)
- A higher capacity and faster connection on the A75 from the ferry port at Cairnryan to the M6 corridor for freight and passengers to and from Northern Ireland
- Relief from congestion for the M4 corridor in South Wales, on which the Burns Commission recently reported to the Welsh Government, and consequent improvements to the South Wales main line
- Better port capacity at Holyhead, and connections from Ynys Môn and the North Wales coast to Merseyside and Manchester for freight and passengers
- Faster and higher capacity connections from Belfast to North West Northern Ireland, and to the Republic of Ireland, for passengers and freight, and to link with the Republic’s plans for rail development
- Better air links to England to and from Northern Ireland and Northern Scotland, including but not exclusively to and from London Heathrow, for worldwide connections for passengers and freight; including the appropriate rate of Air Passenger Duty for journeys not realistic by rail
Building on this, the Prime Minister has announced £20m for exploring the development of projects such as:
- improved rail connectivity between the north coast of Wales and England
- upgrading the A75 between Gretna, Dumfries and Stranraer – a key route for south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland but almost entirely single-carriageway
- significantly faster rail links from England to Scotland, including looking at options to enhance the West Coast Main Line
- rail improvements in south-east Wales, building on ideas from the Welsh Government’s Burns Commission