International flights almost double at Transport Scotland, claim LibDems

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has warned that “news of the climate emergency does not seem to have reached Transport Scotland” as he revealed that staff at the organisation have taken almost 1,400 flights in the past five years.

The SNP government’s to hide the figures was thwarted by a freedom of information request submitted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to Transport Scotland revealed that between 2014/15 and 2018/19, staff at the organisation took 872 domestic flights and 483 international flights.

Transport Scotland took almost twice as many international flights last year as they did in 2014/15.

Mr Rumbles said: ““News of the climate emergency does not seem to have reached Transport Scotland.

“Every public body should be working out how they can reduce their impact on the planet and Transport Scotland in particular should be leading by example.

“The SNP record on the environment is one of fiddling and fudging. They are still flip-flopping on Heathrow expansion, told the public they had banned fracking while arguing the opposite in court, and have utterly failed to make a dent in fuel poverty levels.

“The Liberal Democrats have a clear and ambitious plan to cut harmful emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2045. We want to see every home and building insulated through an emergency 10-year programme, and ensure all new cars are electric within a decade.

“Nobody should get a free pass – especially not Transport Scotland.”

Reaction locally to the government request for people to cut down on flying came from SNP councillor Ian Dickson, who revealed that he had travelled across the Erskine Bridge to Glasgow Airport for flying lessons which would lead to him becoming a pilot.

Jackie Baillie, the Labour MP for Dumbarton and Lomond, travelled to Germany by air for the festive holidays with family and friends.

She said that while climate change was high on her agenda, the time allocated for her holidays and the fact that had she gone by any other means would not have allowed her to fit the holiday into her work schedule.

She said: ““Whilst I understand the need to travel for business it would perhaps be more helpful if domestic journeys, which include holidays, could be undertaken by alternative means such as train travel.”

The SNP and Conservative Party refused to comment.


  1. Editor, flying is flying, and if it is for business, then arguably that is morally better than for leisure.

    Jackie Baillie is entitled to her holidays and flying to Germany doesn’t exactly make her Air Miles Andy. But she could have used alternative transport – such as the under funded train network.

    But, if truth be told, flying isn’t yet a crime. Maybe it should be along with a ban on private cars, a ban on cruise liners, a ban on the importation of exotic foods like bananas , oranges, pineapples, mangos and a whole lot more.

    Me, I like to buy my tatties with a saltire rather than tatties with a Union Jack hauled all the way from Suffolk. So at least I try to minimise the food miles when I can.

    But aside and widening the ecology issues, maybe also we should immediately ban all plastic wrappings. Might cost a lot of jobs but at least we would reduce oil / plastic useage. And if we could substitute biodegradable or recyclable green packaging made from trees and or plants, wouldn’t that be good. We’ve certainly got room for trees in Scotland.

    Or what about agriculture. Should we not be making it a crime to eat meat. All that farting and walking about fields using up energy might sound humorous but there’s serious science to it.

    These are big big questions that cannot be addressed immediately. The Scottish Government is trying but being the ” pretendy devolved parliament as it has been described ” its powers are limited.

    Against that Mike Rumbles cheap shot attack on the First Minister comes across as just that – a cheap shot.

    But otherwise absolutely fabulous to hear that Jackie had travelled by plane on her holiday to Germany out of absolute necessity. At least that puts her goodself and her party out of criticism. Or is the Democrat just anticipating that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Ah well, I think we get the message of SNP baad, very baad.

    Any way Editor, I trust on the pain of eternal damnation, and worse, that you have never ever, ever flown to Ireland. That would just be awful!

    But yes, we all need to change, and it needs to be root and branch change.

  2. Insulation of houses. Now that is a very good thing.

    Back in 2015 the Scottish Government funded the Scottish Quality Housing 15 initiative where social housing was to have its thermal efficiency improved through the addition of insulation.

    A great initiative but unfortunately it went a tad wrong locally in West Dunbartonshire when after undertaking millions of pounds worth of cladding someone found out that the cladding specified and fitted was not compliant with fire retardant standards.

    So panic stations with contracts stopped and suspended whilst the Council sought a derogation – dispensation to allow the cladding already fitted to remain in place.

    And the extra cost to the council taxpayer for the cost of suspension of the contractors and the cost of getting it right. Ah that would be one of these secrets that the Council don’t like to disclose. A million, possibly two, or more. Maybe the Democrat would like to ask the last administration.

    Other than that, Westminster imposes an environmental levy on all gas and electricity bills and therein lies another question. Why does the Scottish Government not get the monies from the Westminster environmental levy and or why is the environmental levy, or part of it given to private companies like British Gas or Scottish Power with off shore ownership to disburse.

    These are things that folks would like to know.

    People in Scotland are living in fuel poverty and cold houses whilst the international corporates who own our utilities deliver large profits.

  3. I am the ancient mariner, Willie. I take the ferry. Seldom use planes, although I have on occasion. Helicopters even. Of course, it’s OK for Jackie to take the plane to Germany, but she accepts that it’s not environmentally friendly, as you have pointed out. As for Cllr Dickson taking flying lessons and Transport Scotland doubling the number of flights it has taken over five years, well that’s taking the rest of us for mugs. It’s OK for them but verboten for the rest of us. As for your questions above, will the £500,000 a year Communications Department answer them? I doubt it. They live on a parallel universe where we don’t exist or at least they think we don’t exist. They would prefer that. Pity . We could do so much to help them get their message across.Their advertising policies have done so much to wreck the local press. Just one word would cover it. HELP.

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