Nicola Sturgeon’s time as SNP first minister saw her clock up 112,474 air miles including regular flights from London to Scotland

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By Ketrin Agustine

  • Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon clocked up 112,747 air miles in office
  • This cost the taxpayer more than £70,000
  • She burnished her reputation as an eco-warrior on several occasions 

Nicola Sturgeon clocked up 112,474 air miles in her seven years as first minister of Scotland, new data has revealed.

The former SNP leader, who in June was arrested and later released without charge during a Police Scotland probe into possible fundraising fraud in her party, took 153 flights during her time in office, costing the taxpayer over £70,000

She flew the equivalent of four-and-a-half times the circumference of the globe, according to data released to the Telegraph under freedom of information laws. 

These trips would’ve generated around 2.7 million kg of carbon emissions, which would’ve required 100,000 trees to be planted in order to be fully offset.

Nearly half of the trips, 72, were between Scotland and London, despite a regular train service that could’ve been used instead, critics said. 

Nicola Sturgeon’s time as SNP first minister saw her clock up 112,474 air miles including regular flights from London to Scotland

These trips would've generated around 2.7 million kg of carbon emissions, which would've required 100,000 trees to be planted in order to be fully offset

On top of this, she also took several flights to travel much shorter distances, such as from Edinburgh to Manchester, and Manchester to Glasgow. 

In her first full year in office, she flew 25 times, including 16 trips from Scotland to London, or back again. Other trips that year including Beijing, Berlin, and New York. 

She took 32 flights the following year, including 14 between Scotland and London, and took trips to Berlin, Vienna, Sarajevo and Iceland’s capital Reykjavik

During the pandemic however, the number of flights she took dramatically dropped, with only 15 in 2019/20 and five in 2021/22. 

The following year, her final in officer, she took 14 flights, including 14 in or out of London. 

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Liz Lloyd, who was a central figure in Covid planning during the pandemic

They also included a trip from Edinburgh to Milan on June 20 last year so she could attend a two-day meeting of “global women leaders”, including Hillary Clinton. 

The total cost to the public purse of Sturgeon’s flights while first minister was £71,559,42.

This is despite consistently bragging about about ‘world-leading’ environmental targets set under her leadership, and urging other global figures at COP26 in Glasgow ‘to match their rhetoric with reality.’

Stephen Kerr, a Tory MSP, told the Telegraph: ‘People are used to hot air from politicians but Nicola Sturgeon took that to a new level with her jet-setting, carbon-intensive travel.

‘Many of these flights were domestic and could have been done by train. Frankly, the former first minister, who made protecting the environment such a central plank of her time in office should hang her head in shame at the amount of carbon she produced.’

While trips to other countries are often reserved for Westminster-based ministers, SNP ministers were known for making regular trips abroad to promote Scottish trade interests. 

But James Cleverly, then-foreign secretary, cracked down on using taxpayer money to promote independence. 

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘Travel is an essential part of official government business, we take our responsibility to travel sustainably very seriously and aim to use more sustainable forms of transport wherever possible.

‘Any business flights taken by Scottish Government ministers and employees are offset by a carbon levy. 

‘The levy is used to fund carbon reduction projects that compensate for the carbon emissions generated.’

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