How the Department for Climate Change spent millions on flights that cause... climate change

Research from the Taxpayers Alliance shows that Whitehall doesn't always practice what it preaches. Also, an unlikely but familiar figure pops up in Croydon North
  • @andymcsmith

Air travel is notoriously the form of transport that people who care about climate change do their best to avoid – a rule that seems not to apply to the ministers and civil servants at Department of Energy and Climate Change, who have been flying hither and thither like travellers on a frenzied mission to achieve maximum air miles. The Taxpayers’ Alliance have wheedled out the information that the department has spent more than £1.5m on 3,496 flights in the past two and a half years.

The single most expensive was a business class booking to London from Cancun, in Mexico – where the climate change summit was held in December 2010 – costing £5,792. And the high ups at Decc do not just fly to foreign parts. When they need to travel between cities in the UK, it seems an aircraft is again their vehicle of choice, because the long list includes just over £250,000 worth of domestic flights, including two between Manchester and London costing £188 each.

“Despite being one of the departments making air travel more expensive for people paying their own way, Decc has spent an astonishing amount of taxpayers’ money on flights. This looks like breathtaking hypocrisy,” said Matthew Sinclair, the Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive.

The windmills of your mind

If you are an MP debating a difficult subject such as wind farms, it is always helpful to have a colleague chime in to say that he agrees with you. Or nearly always. A Lincolnshire MP, Stephen Phillips, was in the middle of complaining about wind farms that keep the good folk of Lincolnshire awake at night with their “whoosh, whoosh” noise, when he received this not altogether helpful intervention from a fellow Tory MP, Karl McCartney: “Do you agree that the point you were making, which has gone completely out of my mind… regarding our area of Lincolnshire… I have completely forgotten what I was going to say…” The wind farms must really have been ruining his sleep.

Can Labour beat the rap?

The impending by-election in North Croydon, caused by the death of the much respected Labour MP Malcolm Wicks, could turn out to be livelier than Labour would like. Lee Jasper, who ran into considerable controversy during his time as race relations adviser to the former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has popped up in Croydon as the candidate for the Respect Party.

He and Respect’s leader, George Galloway, have recorded a campaign rap, posted on Facebook. “If you’re tired of the same old, same old… If you’re upset that the banks have got away with murder and you want to see some change in this country, then I’m your man,” it goes. Mr Galloway has promised in a separate video that even if they do not win, Respect will put up the “most visible, enthusiastic and original campaign”.