Study on public sector staff flying to London

The most regular fliers included the police and universities. Picture: PA
The most regular fliers included the police and universities. Picture: PA
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SCOTTISH public sector staff have flown to London up to 100 times as frequently as taking the train in the last year, a study by sustainable transport campaigners Transform Scotland showed today.

The most regular fliers included the police and universities, and fewer than one in five of the 78 public bodies which responded to the survey used rail more than air.

The report found three in four journeys to London in the year to June were by plane rather than train, which it said was substantially more polluting.

The six former police forces for which information was provided for the survey clocked up 1,732 flights compared to 111 rail journeys in the year up to their replacement by Police Scotland in April.

These included 119 flights and no train trips to London by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, while Strathclyde Police staff took 1,201 flights and 61 train journeys.

The higher education sector took 3,909 flights and 1,672 train trips. Universities with a disproportionate number of flights included Edinburgh Napier, with 285 against 152 train journeys.

By contrast, Transform Scotland praised the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for cutting its mainland UK flights by 96 per cent.

Overall, public sector staff took 8,360 flights compared to 3,004 to London, the Doing their Duty? report found.

Transform Scotland criticised the public sector’s “dismal” performance in making its transport greener, which it also measured by how much bodies were reducing their travel and using lower-emission vehicles.

Chair Phil Matthews said: “We need to see concerted action by the Scottish public sector to cut emissions and deliver sustainable transport.

“Transport is one of the key sources of greenhouse gases and public bodies have a vital role to play in cutting emissions.

“It is therefore surprising that the wider public sector appears to be taking so little action to help deliver Scotland’s legally binding climate change targets.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The information in this report covers the period before the formation of Police Scotland. The creation of a single force will allow Police Scotland the opportunity to plan travel as many other areas of business in a more effective and efficient manner.”

An Edinburgh Napier spokesman said it was also reviewing its travel policy.

He said: “We are very conscious of our responsibilities to the wider community and environment.

“Actions we’ve taken since 2006 have seen the institution reduce its emissions by 25 per cent overall, leading to a number of accolades.

“We also have procedures in place to ensure we can operate even more sustainably in the future, further reducing our carbon footprint.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government encourages public bodies to show leadership on the climate change agenda through the development and implementation of sustainable transport policies.

“The Scottish Government’s travel strategy encourages people to use sustainable methods of transport as a first option, and we have increased the availability of video conferencing to cut down on unnecessary journeys.”