Tabloid story is plane crazy: Shapps

WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has dismissed an article in a national newspaper which criticised him for flying his private plane to a BBC radio debate in Wales.

Yesterday’s Sunday Mirror reported how Mr Shapps undertook a 412 mile round trip from Panshanger Aerodrome to Swansea, in order to take part in Jonathan Dimbleby’s BBC Radio 4 show Any Questions.

The paper claimed his flight, made two weeks ago in his private Piper Saratoga, belched around 1,034kg of CO2 into the atmosphere - the equivalent of 27 train trips.

But speaking exclusively to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, Mr Shapps said: “I was invited to take part in the show at the very last minute.

“The train wasn’t an option because of the tightness of the time.”

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The housing minister also disputed the Mirror’s figures and said that his flight actually only generated 412kg of CO2.

He added: “I went at my own expense and I didn’t charge the (BBC) licence fee payer for the journey.”

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The article went on to claim that Mr Shapps’ flight made a mockery of PM David Cameron’s vow to run the greenest Government ever.

However Mr Shapps rebutted this, and said he offset his yearly carbon footprint by making an annual payment to the Woodland Trust, which allows it to plant new trees and reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere.

“All in all, given the inaccuracies, it added up to a very misleading story in a newspaper which is aligned to hate Tories,” Mr Shapps concluded.

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