Care home regulator didn’t probe thousands of complaints

Regulator decided not to investigate more than 2000 complaints about care homes for older people in Scotland.

John Angus Gordon surrounded by his family at Home Farm care home. John Gordon via E-mail
John Angus Gordon surrounded by his family at Home Farm care home.

Investigations by the regulator into complaints against care homes in Scotland were significantly reduced during the period when Covid-19 was taking a devastating toll on the sector.

Only one in 20, or 5%, of complaints made by relatives, carers and staff about the quality of care being received by older people in homes were fully investigated by the Care Inspectorate.

Of the 2316 complaints received by the regulator from relatives in the 2020/21 period, just 122 were the subject of a full investigation. This compares with more than 600 in previous years.

The Care Inspectorate said that it had “rapidly adapted” to the situation last year and had reduced the number of on-site inspections it carried out to avoid spreading the virus.

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The data has been revealed as part of a collaborative project by STV News, The Scotsman, The Herald, The Press and Journal and The Courier.

The Scottish Government has committed to a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic but some relatives are now calling for the Care Inspectorate’s role in regulating the sector to be subject to similar scrutiny.

Highland councillor John Gordon lost his father, John Angus Gordon, to Covid while he was being cared for at Home Farm in Portree. He believes staff did their best but were part of a system “that failed them and failed us as families but most importantly failed the residents”.

Home Farm was operated by care provider HC-One before being taken over by NHS Highland. HC-One declined to comment.

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John said: “Our elderly population deserve the best care possible and if there are complaints they should be addressed and dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

“I think that a lot of the problems that care homes are facing and what we have experienced during the pandemic in terms of some of the reports that have come out and the complaints that we’re now hearing about ultimately is at the door of the Care Inspectorate.”

More than 3300 people died of Covid-19 related causes in Scottish care homes.

The information about complaints emerged as part of an ongoing collaborative investigation by Scotland’s leading media companies, including STV News. Previous freedom of information requests resulted in the National Records of Scotland being ordered to release data on deaths in every care home in Scotland.

Now, the Care Inspectorate has responded to a FOI request by releasing data on the number of complaints lodged about individual care homes for older people.

The data reveals that three quarters of Scotland’s 806 care homes were complained about in 2020/21. The total number of complaints was 2316 – a slight reduction from the previous period, which is thought to be linked to fewer visits from relatives and carers.

It has also emerged that the regulator made a number of changes to how it dealt with complaints in a bid to reduce the level of visits to care homes during the pandemic.

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It adopted a system that relied on “more dialogue and mediation” at the earlier stages of complaints. Under this approach, the number of completed investigations fell from a monthly average of 52 in 2019/20 to just ten per month during the last financial year.

Rather than be subject to detailed investigations, half of all complaints were noted for “intelligence” and for possible future inspection work – a rate almost double that of the previous period.

Additionally, the number of cases dealt with by “direct service action” – where the regulator asks the care provider to engage directly with the complainer – increased from an average of 13 per month to 27.

A report from the Care Inspectorate board meeting in June notes that the regulator was “keen to learn the lessons from our work on complaints in the last year” and that an internal review has been commissioned.

The data released under FOI shows the regulator has dealt with 10,481 complaints about care homes for older people in the past five years.

At the height of the pandemic in April last year, 295 complaints were recorded.

Of the 20 facilities with the most complaints last year, 18 were privately run.

The Care Inspectorate received at least one complaint about 82% of private sector care homes for older people last financial year. It upheld the complaint in about one in eight cases.

Of the complaints made in 2020/21 about care homes for older people, 40% came from relatives and carers and more than 25% were lodged by staff at the homes.

The focus of the complaints were healthcare (38%), communication (17.8%) and wellbeing (8.3%).

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “ In March 2020, in line with guidance from directors of public health and after consultation with the Scottish Government, we rapidly adapted the way we worked because it was critical to minimise the spread of the virus, to keep people safe.

“Part of this meant on-site complaint investigations had to be limited to those that were deemed essential following an enhanced risk assessment. At that time we also significantly increased our contact with services and made use of technology where appropriate.

“The pandemic caused changes to how services operated. Some closed and others restricted non-essential visitors.

“As a result, the trends and patterns in complaints noted in previous years were disrupted with falls in complaints received in the past year.

“Complaint investigation is one important part of our scrutiny work. Complaints inform our wider work, which includes intelligence gathering about care services and subsequently unannounced inspections of care services as required.

“Where we have serious concerns about a care service we do not hesitate to take action to keep people safe, and we lay a summary report of all our inspections every two weeks before the Scottish Parliament.”

Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Government minister for mental wellbeing and social care, said: “The safety, protection and wellbeing of residents and staff in care homes is a priority, and we have met regularly with the Care Inspectorate throughout the pandemic as they adapted to the challenges of inspecting and supporting care homes.

“Complaint investigations have continued throughout the pandemic as part of a multi-agency approach, which also involves Health and Social Care Partnerships and local public health teams.

“We mourn every death from Covid-19 and express our sympathy for all those who have lost loved ones.

“We have confirmed there will be a public inquiry into all aspects of the impact and handling of Covid-19, including care homes, and our immediate focus is on continuing to do everything necessary to save lives for the remainder of this pandemic.

“In addition, the First Minister announced an independent review into how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services.”

Karen Hedge, national director at Scottish Care, said: “The delivery of safe high quality care and support is our first priority.

“Whilst we understand the need to reduce footfall as a result of the pandemic, the sector is now in a safer position with the introduction of double vaccinations and other IPC (infection protection and control) measures.

“In situations where a local resolution cannot be found, we would welcome Care Inspectorate intervention as a way to investigate and respond to complaints.

“This is a necessary part of the improvement process offering assurance to those accessing care and support and their families as well as to care providers and staff.”

‘There still feels like there is no closure in this

Highland councillor John Gordon lost his father, John Angus Gordon, to Covid while he was being cared for at Home Farm in Portree.

John’s father was diagnosed with dementia in the final years of his life and lived close to his daughter, Mary MacCaskill, and his grandchildren.

“Getting dementia in the last six years of his life wasn’t easy. My mum cared for him, sadly two years into it she passed away with cancer,” John explained.

“He was settled in Home Farm by then and, yeah, I always say my dad loved reaching out his hand to give you a handshake, he would always shake your hand whenever he met you and even if you went to his house for a cup of tea, even if I went to his house for a cup of tea, you would always get a handshake as he greeted you at the door or even when you went into the sitting room.

“It was something he did, he just liked shaking hands. For us, it was very poignant the day he died and we said our goodbyes. I don’t know if he recognised our voices but certainly when my sister and I spoke he reached out his hand but it was the carer with her blue gloves on, for us it was very poignant because our dad always shook our hand and there he is coming to the end of his life and the hand that’s grabbing his hand is somebody that has to wear a blue glove because of the pandemic that we are in and that was our last time with our dad.

“It was obviously on FaceTime and it’s not been an easy year and as I said there still feels like there is no closure in this. It’s such a cliche but answers have to be given and these issues have to be addressed.”

‘Racist and sectarian’ singing at Orange marches condemned by police

Arrests made as chief superintendent says some participants intent on 'causing offence and stirring up hatred'.

Jeff J Mitchell / Staff via Getty Images

Outbreaks of “racist and sectarian singing” by people taking part in Orange Order processions through Glasgow have been condemned by police.

Officers made several arrests as thousands of people marched in the city on Saturday.

Crowds lined the streets in the city centre for the marches, including on George Street and West George Street, and there was a large police presence at Glasgow Green where members of the parades gathered in the afternoon.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Orange parades in the city and follows the cancellation of the biggest annual event, commemorating the Battle of the Boyne, the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Chief superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for Greater Glasgow said some participants were intent on “causing offence and stirring up hatred by singing unacceptable sectarian and racist songs”.

He said: “We are aware that on a number of occasions today there have been outbreaks of racist and sectarian singing by some of those attending to support the Orange Order processions, this is utterly unacceptable and we completely condemn this behaviour.

“Where possible, we are seeking to take action against those intent on causing harm and dividing our communities, we have already made arrests in connection with various offences and will continue to do so where required. With large crowds gathering today, our main priority has been public safety and to ensure minimum disruption to the wider public.

“Once again, we see a number of people intent in causing offence and stirring up hatred by singing unacceptable sectarian and racist songs, I want to again condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms.

“It is clear that sectarianism remains a serious, ongoing problem in Scotland and whilst policing has an important role in tackling this type of behaviour, this is a collective problem and needs to be addressed in a collective, collaborative manner.”

Earlier this week, Glasgow’s police chief warned the force will not tolerate “offensive behaviour, including hate crimes, drunkenness and disorder” and urged the “large majority” who behave in the “right way” to influence those around them.

Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, told STV News: “As per normal, our members behave in the right manner and always have done and always will do.

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“Everyone in the parade shows respect to every part of the community and all we ask for is the people who come along to support understand that, and indeed the people who object to our existence – that they respect us.”

But the Church of Scotland took to Twitter as the marches took place to condemn anti-Catholic bigotry.

It said: “The Church of Scotland opposes anti-Catholic bigotry and sectarianism. We have a very close working relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.

“Over the years we have worked together to tackle sectarianism and support one another.

“We speak to leaders in the Roman Catholic Church every week and greatly appreciate the friendship that exists between our churches and our communities.”

Up to 800 police officers were deployed to manage the event, which saw marches proceed through the city centre and past Catholic churches.

Following an assault on a Catholic priest in July 2018, marches were re-routed to avoid passing St Alphonsus church on London Road in 2019.

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Members of Call It Out, a campaign group that opposes anti-Irish and anti-Catholic bigotry, were spotted holding “peaceful vigils” outside churches on the routes.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “We are calling on all Glasgow citizens, trade unionists, anti-racists, equality campaigners and those opposed to egregious manifestations of anti-Catholic hatred to join us in peaceful protest in response to the imposition of these marches by anti-Catholic organisations.”

Scotland records another 27 Covid deaths and 6116 new cases

Scottish Government daily figures show almost 100 people are receiving intensive care in hospital.

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Coronavirus: Another 27 deaths have been recorded in past 24 hours.

A total of 27 new coronavirus-linked deaths have been recorded in Scotland, according to the latest Government figures.

The data shows a total of 6116 people tested positive for the virus in the last 48 hours.

The Scottish Government said Saturday’s case numbers may be higher than normal due to a backlog of data being processed following technical issues at Public Health Scotland on Thursday.

The latest figures mean the daily positivity rate currently stands at 9.0%.

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The death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 8,376.

A total of 99 people were in intensive care on Friday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 12 from the day before, and 1052 Covid patients were in hospital overall, 15 more than the previous day.

So far, 4,151,735 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,802,183 have received their second dose.

PCR testing for travellers ‘essential to track new variants’

One of Scotland’s leading epidemiologists has backed the decision to keep PCR testing in place for international travellers.

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Those arriving in Scotland will still be required to take a pre-departure test.

One of Scotland’s leading epidemiologists has backed the Scottish Government’s decision to keep PCR testing in place for international travellers.

The UK Government has announced it will allow vaccinated travellers to replace the PCR test currently required on day two of their return to England with a cheaper lateral flow test from next month. They will also no longer have to take a pre-departure test before returning.

But those arriving north of the border will still be required to take the pre-departure test – including from non-red list destinations – before returning, even if they are fully vaccinated, and the day two test will have to be a PCR.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday, Professor Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, said she fully supports the Scottish Government’s decision to keep the testing regime in place.

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She said: “Letting go of PCR testing is letting go of one of the main ways we would identify new variants, and be able to even know if it was coming in, if it was being seated.

“And secondly, to be able to catch positive cases that we have tried to control and keep the numbers as low as we can and the pressure off the NHS.”

Prof Sridhar also said the Government needs to make PCR testing more affordable and accessible for those travelling to and from Scotland.

She said: “It is important to keep the testing in place because I was looking at some of the numbers yesterday and of the people arriving into the UK – and again, these are people who need to have a negative lateral flow test before flying – about 400 people are arriving testing positive after being fully vaccinated and about 1,000 people are testing positive for being unvaccinated.

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“If we’re not testing for those people coming in, they wouldn’t even know they’re positive and need to isolate, nor would we be able to sequence those to know if there’s a new variant coming in, which is one of the main things we are concerned about going into winter.”

The Scottish Government also confirmed in a statement on Friday that it will end its current traffic light system for international travel.

From October 4, the green and amber lists will merge but the red list will remain.

Current amber list rules – which allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolating – will be the default for non-red list countries.

Vaccinations that took place in 17 countries including Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand will now be regarded as eligible under the rules, joining jabs in UK, the EU, the USA and the European Free Trade Association.

Eight countries – including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives – are also being removed from the red list with effect from 4am on Wednesday.

Travellers from Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will also no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel from that date.


Man charged after disturbance in restaurant leads to hospital death

The 44-year-old was taken to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy after a disturbance at a premises in Inverkeithing.

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A 26-year-old has been arrested and charged in connection with the death.

A man has been charged in connection with the death of a man who was injured in a Fife restaurant.

Police Scotland said officers were called after a 44-year-old man was seriously injured at the premises on Inverkeithing’s High Street on Friday afternoon.

He was taken by ambulance to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy where he died a short time later.

A 26-year-old man has now been arrested and charged in connection with the death.

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He is due to appear at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Monday.

Police said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.


Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 musical reopens Edinburgh Playhouse

The show marks a triumphant return to the theatre which has been closed for 547 days.

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Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 the musical has arrived in Scotland – and it’s currently delighting audiences in Edinburgh.

The show, starring Louise Redknapp, marks a triumphant return to the Edinburgh Playhouse – the UK’s largest theatre – which has been closed for 547 days.

Country music superstar Parton produced the show and even makes a cameo appearance

Theatre staff say the first week has been “emotional”, but it’s “exceeded all expectation”.

For one performer, opening night was emotional. Kirsty Shaw grew up around the corner from the playhouse and performing on its stage has been a lifelong dream

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Ms Shaw told STV News: “It was amazing because it was my first time back on stage after 22 months I think.

“It was just surreal because it’s my home, it’s where I grew up and I used to watch all the shows.

“I used to do Stage Experience which was like a summer school thing which was amazing, it’s a bit emotional.

“It’s a bit weird but it’s so good – we’ve got two other cast members from Scotland and you can tell that when we’re here we just have so much pride for this theatre and for Scottish theatre and for what we can do.”

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Despite a few safety measures in place, it does feel like a return to normality.

Pam Aldred, Edinburgh Playhouse: “It’s been emotional. For our theatre and for our industry.

“There were times when we thought ‘surely we’re going to get open at Christmas, no, it’s not Christmas. Might be Easter, no it’s not Easter.

“It just felt draining at times. It was really emotional and a bit of a roller coaster.

“When we all got that call back to say ‘right, we’re going to reopen’, I can’t describe the feeling. It was just incredible.”

The show will tour across Scotland later this year.


Kelty Hearts striker suffers racist abuse against Albion Rovers

Nathan Austin is the second player in Scottish football to report such abuse in consecutive weekends.

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Nathan Austin was subjected to racist abuse on Saturday.

Kelty Hearts striker Nathan Austin was subjected to racist abuse during his team’s cinch League Two victory over Albion Rovers.

Austin is the second player in Scottish football to report such abuse in consecutive weekends. Airdrie launched an investigation into a complaint by their player Rico Quitongo.

Former East Fife and Inverness striker Austin netted a hat-trick in Kelty’s 3-0 win at Cliftonhill but admitted the incident had soured the occasion.

Writing on his Twitter account and publishing a photograph of the signed match ball, Austin said: “A Perfect hat-trick tarnished by an Albion fan calling me a monkey but I guess that’s the world we live in. enjoy your Saturday folks cos I will.”

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A Rovers fan group quickly apologised to Austin and distanced themselves from the perpetrator.

In a statement on Twitter, the Coatbridge Boys group wrote: “Today one of Kelty Hearts players Nathan Austin was racially abused by a member of our group, since then the person has owned up to it and has been removed from our group, we would (like) to apologise to Nathan and Kelty Hearts, Coatbridge Boys stand against racism.”

Kelty Hearts later issued a statement of their own in response to the abuse.

The statement read: “We are aware of an incident of racist abuse during our match against Albion Rovers FC today. It came from an individual in the home end terracing towards one of our players.

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“An investigation is underway with our friends from Albion Rovers FC, who gave all at our club a fantastic welcome on our first visit to Cliftonhill.

“Kelty Hearts Football Club shall support all our players and members fully against racism of any kind, we strongly condemn racism and are totally committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination.”

Albion Rovers have been approached for comment.

Days earlier, Quitongo reported being subjected to racial abuse by one of his own supporters during Airdrie’s game against Queen’s Park. Airdrie launched an investigation and gave Quitongo their full support.


Two-year-old girl dies after falling from pony at hunt meeting

The toddler had been riding with members of The Bedale Hunt on land in a village near Northallerton in North Yorkshire.

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North Yorkshire Police confirmed girl died in hospital in early hours of Thursday.

A two-year-old girl has died after falling from a pony during a hunt meeting in North Yorkshire.

The toddler had been riding with members of The Bedale Hunt on land in a village near Northallerton on Wednesday morning when the incident occurred.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed the girl died in hospital in the early hours of Thursday, with event officials saying members were “devastated”.

A Bedale Hunt spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a tragic accident happened on Wednesday, September 15, when a two-year-old girl fell from her pony and subsequently lost her life.

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“As a community we are all completely devastated but are pulling together to support the family involved.

“Our sincere condolences go to all those affected and we urge that everybody respects the family’s privacy during what is a very distressing time.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Police are compiling a report on behalf of the coroner following the tragic death of a two-year-old girl who was involved in a horse riding-related incident on land at Kirkby Fleetham, near Northllerton.

“It occurred at around 8am on Wednesday and the girl died at hospital during the early hours of Thursday.

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“The girl’s family are receiving specialist support while enquiries are ongoing into the incident.

“Police request that the family’s privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”


Opening hours for pubs, clubs and restaurants extended during COP26

Glasgow’s Licensing Board has agreed to allow one additional hour from the terminal hour when the climate conference is held.

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Glasgow’s Licensing Board has agreed to allow one additional hour from the terminal hour.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants in Glasgow will be able to stay open for an extra hour during COP26.

Glasgow’s Licensing Board has agreed to allow one additional hour from the terminal hour when the United Nations climate conference is held at the SEC.

The decision applies to venues with a premises licence allowing the sale of alcohol on site — and will run from October 31 to November 12.

Board members made the decision on Friday in private after hearing from a Police Scotland representative.

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A report presented to the board revealed: “The Licensing Board may, if it considers it appropriate to do so in connection with a special event of local or national significance, make a determination extending licensed hours by such period as the board may specify in the determination.”

Around 30,000 delegates from across the world are expected to arrive in Glasgow for the major climate talks, which have been billed as the world’s “last best chance” to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis by US climate envoy John Kerry.

The Licensing Board report added: “As well as a curated programme of events intended to complement the main COP26 programme, there will be various fringe events across the hospitality and events sector within the city in order to encourage businesses and residents to get involved in the climate change conversation.

“COP26 presents an opportunity for an animated and vibrant ‘COP City’ to promote a successful conference, a successful host nation and a safe and secure event.”

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Denise Hamilton, from the neighbourhoods and sustainability team, recently told a meeting of the city’s local licensing forum that the council hoped the event would “benefit hospitality and licensed trade”.

She said a “difficult balance” between helping “businesses to thrive” and preventing the spread of Covid-19 would need to be found.

“We want Glasgow to benefit from having COP in the city, but we also want to ensure that our businesses and residents are not put at risk.”

By Local Democracy reporter Drew Sandelands


Cooking oil fuels ‘perfect flight’ from London to Glasgow

Aviation chiefs say flight from Heathrow to Glasgow produced 62% fewer emissions than same journey in 2010.

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The plane was taken to the runaway by an electric vehicle.

Recycled cooking oil helped fuel what has been described as the “perfect flight” between London and Scotland.

British Airways (BA) said the 52-minute passenger service from Heathrow to Glasgow Airport was “carbon neutral” due a combination of sustainable fuel, an optimised flightpath, electric vehicles and CO2 offsetting.

Compared to the same journey in 2010, the flight produced 62% fewer emissions, according to British Airways and air traffic controllers at NATS.

Glasgow Airport bosses and BA said the flight was designed to demonstrate progress being made by the aviation industry to cut emissions as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for crunch climate talks at COP26.

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However, environmental campaigners described the idea of a “perfect flight” as “complete fantasy”.

What made it the ‘perfect flight’?

  • Sustainable fuel made from recycled waste cooking oil was mixed with traditional jet fuel to meet industry standards;
  • The plane was an Airbus A320neo, which is said to be the quietest and most efficient aircraft in the BA fleet for short-haul journeys;
  • It has lighter seats and catering trollies, while in-flight manuals and magazines have been replaced by digital downloads, reducing fuel use, BA said;
  • The plane was pushed back at Heathrow using an electric vehicle, while only one of its engines was used to taxi to the runway, halving the amount of power used.
  • Air traffic controllers at NATS directed the plane on its climb and descent, to avoid levelling off and unnecessary fuel burn;
  • Computer systems worked out the best altitude to make the journey more efficient.

The passenger flight left Heathrow at 10.36am on Tuesday morning, before landing in Glasgow at 11.28am.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports Ltd, which owns Glasgow Airport, said: “This flight demonstrates the progress the industry has made during the last decade and how we can work collectively to decarbonise aviation.

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“As one of the UK’s largest airport groups, we are committed to achieving net-zero by mid 2030s. This involves decarbonising our own infrastructure, including the roll out of fixed electrical ground power, which is powered using 100% renewable energy sources.”

‘Real progress’

British Airways said the experiment – which involved fuel giant BP and plane manufacturer Airbus – offered a “glimpse into the future” of commercial aviation.

BA chairman Sean Doyle said: “By working together with our industry partners, we’ve delivered a 62% improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago. This marks real progress in our efforts to decarbonise and shows our determination to continue innovating.”

‘Complete fantasy’

Campaign group Aviation Environment Federation reacted with scepticism to the airline and airport’s claims.

Policy director Cait Hewitt said: “The idea that we’re anywhere near a ‘perfect flight’ is a complete fantasy. The planes of today are noisy, polluting and carbon-intensive and the industry doesn’t yet have the technology on hand to solve any of those problems.

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“Turning used cooking oil into aviation fuel might help reduce waste and recycle some carbon, but once it’s burned, it makes just as much CO2 as kerosene.

“And there really isn’t enough chip fat around to power the world’s aviation fleet.”


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