The Scottish Government is to introduce a levy on cruise ships visiting the country.
This will be applied in partnership with local authorities to tackle the twin challenges of reducing the amount of harmful emissions being released and the impact of thousands of tourists on port communities.
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater (pictured) announced the move at the party conference in Dunfermline recently, which is just seven miles from the Forth port of Rosyth, which hosts cruise ships.
This initiative will ensure the investment needed to support communities hosting cruise ships, overwhelmed by thousands of visitors at a time, by empowering and working with local councils to introduce a levy to raise vital funding these communities.
Scottish Greens said that the party hoped this will also encourage cruise operators to switch to zero emission vessels.
Slater 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,” she said.
One of Europe’s most polluted ports, Barcelona, recently announced a ban on cruise ships berthing near the city, while Norway will refuse to allow all but zero emission ships to sail in its World Heritage fjords in two years’ time.
According to VisitScotland, more than 800,000 cruise passengers visited the country in 2019 on around 900 cruise ships. Industry group, Cruise Scotland have predicted numbers will rise to 1 mill pax this year.
Scottish Greens transport and environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, added: “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,” he said.