Pollution hotspots at the click of a mouse
Scots can now locate pollution hotspots with the click of a mouse as regulators release a website outlining emissions from industry across the country.The Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory can be found on the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) website and details potentially harmful byproducts from major industry though makes no comment on the likely impact of the hazardous substances.
Though SEPA has intentionally steered clear of turning its database into a league table by choosing not to rank polluters but simply list which substances are discharged where, some will doubtless use it as such.
Users can enter their postcode or address and the website's search facilities will flag up potential polluters in the neighbourhood.
They can also search by industry, company name or pollutant.
The site will help bring Scotland in line with European legislation requiring governments to make environmental information readily available to the public.
"This is a significant improvement on the information that has been provided to date," said Tom Leatherhead, SEPA's environmental quality manager.
"This new site has better search facilities and we've made other changes to make it more user friendly.
"We still have work to do but this is a very useful tool for people who are interested in emissions to the environment."
"This website has a very specific job. We are trying to present a lot of data and information on emissions as clearly and effectively as possible. "However, it deliberately doesn't put site operators into a league table and it doesn't assess any impact that sites have on the environment.
"This is because emission totals inevitably reflect the size of an operation."
The website will be overhauled annually and updated regularly when new sites and business sectors begin operation.
By Sam Bond