SCOTS are being asked to join a campaign to stop the UK Tory Government from handing out “pollution permits” for nothing.

The Emissions Trading Scheme is supposed to reduce carbon emissions by making big polluters buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit but many companies are being handed large numbers of permits for free.

Campaign group openDemocracy said the most recent free handout of permits was to airline companies who were given permits worth more than £300 million last year, while energy giants including Shell and BP were handed out free pollution permits worth £1 billion, with plans to give them billions more.

Now the group wants Scots to add their names to an open letter calling on Energy Secretary Grant Shapps to stop handing over pollution permits for nothing. They also want voters to contact their MPs about it.

“The more public pressure we can apply, the more likely it is we’ll put a stop to this scandal,” said a spokesperson. “Companies are racking up record profits while the rest of us struggle with rocketing fuel prices.”

The open letter reads: “Your Emissions Trading Scheme should reduce pollution by making polluters buy a permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. Instead you’re giving them free permits worth billions of pounds. We demand that you stop giving away Emissions Trading Scheme permits and instead make polluters pay.”

A consultation on a phase-out of the free permits for the aviation industry has been carried out but if any changes are made they will not take effect until at least 2026.

In the meantime, 12.2m free permits have been allocated over the next three years, worth a further £965m at last year’s carbon price.

The UK Government argues that this prevents “carbon leakage” when companies move to countries where they do not need to buy pollution permits but this risk is “minimal”, according to the UK Government’s own commissioned research.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is committed to tackling climate change while protecting our industry from carbon leakage. That is why a proportion of allowances are allocated for free to businesses under the UK Emissions Trading Scheme. This will support industry in the transition to net zero in the context of high global energy prices while incentivising long-term decarbonisation.”