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Ministers criticised for using plane for 150-mile trip to Cardiff

By Nick Eardley
BBC political correspondent

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Ministers used a plane to fly from London to Cardiff for a meeting earlier this week - a 150 mile journey that takes less than two hours by train.

Former Environment Secretary Michael Gove was among those who made the journey from RAF Northolt to attend talks with devolved governments.

The government insisted that using the RAF plane was the most cost effective method available.

But opposition parties said ministers were out of touch.

The government has pledged to boost investment in greener forms of transport to help meet the UK's target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack was among the other senior ministers to catch a lift on the plane for the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) meeting with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.

A return ticket by train from London to Cardiff is available from £50 online.

A government spokesperson said: "Six UK government ministers and their support staff travelled to Cardiff to attend the JMC as well as undertaking other official engagements. They travelled in an efficient and cost effective manner."

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But SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the use of a plane for such a short journey was indefensible.

"While the poorest in our society are hit by crippling austerity and face the damaging legacy of a Tory Brexit that Scotland didn't vote for, these actions show just how out of touch UK government ministers are," he said.

In 2016, the government announced that one aircraft from the RAF Voyager fleet was being refitted at a cost of £10m to provide transport for ministers and members of the Royal Family.

Ministers said the conversion would save the taxpayer £775,000 a year in the cost of private charters.

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