Cruise ships visiting Scottish ports face emissions tax

Cruise ships visiting Scotland face a new levy under proposals put forward by the Scottish Green Party.

The tax is to be developed by the Scottish government  to tackle the “twin challenges” of harmful emissions and the impact of thousands of tourists on port communities.

Scottish Greens hope the initiative will encourage cruise operators to switch to zero emission vessels.

Co-leader Lorna Slater announced the move at the group’s party conference in Dunfermline on Saturday.

The Green Party is Scotland governs in a coalition with the SNP.

Slater, the administration’s circular economy minister, said: “We will work with our partners in local government to empower councils to charge visiting cruise ships a levy. 

“It will mean communities hosting cruise ships get the investment they deserve, and our aim would also be to encourage greener ships.

“This is essential – one ship produces the same amount of carbon emissions as 12,000 cars; operators have been allowed to get away with polluting for too long. A cruise ship levy will empower councils to help tackle this global problem.”

More than 800,000 cruise passengers visited Scotland in pre-pandemic 2019 with around 900 calls to port, according to VisitScotland.

Industry group Cruise Scotland has predicted numbers will rise to one million passengers this year.

Orkney Council last month approved plans to limit the number of ships that can visit at one time.

Scottish Greens transport and environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “From Ullapool to Greenock, Kirkwall to Edinburgh, Stornoway to Rosyth and many more besides, this will make a massive difference in supporting communities.

“For all the benefits tourism brings, pressure on infrastructure, services and how lives of locals in port areas are impacted need properly targeted help and this helps.

“We also know that such action is steering the cruise industry towards investing in a greener and cleaner future, and we want to support a responsible and sustainable activity, so it is right that we play a leading role in accelerating that change.”

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