Scotland launches first summary of environmental trends
The Scottish Executive has launched its first annual statistics on the quality of the environment together with an identification of trends in the data.
Key Scottish Environment Statistics has been published in the form of a booklet and on its own website with the general public as its target audience. The data covers energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water and air quality, as well as radioactive discharges, waste, land use, conservation and biodiversity. Each page includes an easily interpretable chart and table.
The report replaces Scottish Environment Statistics, which was last published in 1998, and contains mixed blessings. On air quality, there have been vast improvements in levels of lead, carbon monoxide, ground level ozone and sulphur dioxide over recent years, but nitrogen dioxide and particulate levels have remained largely static. On water quality, there has been a vast improvement in drinking water quality, with the percentage of drinking water containing coliforms dropping from 7% in 1991 to 1.5% in 1996/7, and the percentage of samples complying with effluent standards increasing from 73% in 19996/7 to 82% in 1999/2000. However, the length of rivers classified as having an excellent water quality has declined slightly in recent years. Nitrate loads have also increase in parts of Scotland over the last 20 years, especially in the east where concentrations have risen from 11.4 mg/l to 13.3 mg/l now. The report also shows that in 1998/9, only 3.8% of Scotland’s refuse was recycled.
“Making this information available in an easy-to-read format will not only allow the public to understand the information but it will also enable them to make informed choices about the impact their actions will have on the environment,” commented Scottish Deputy Environment Minister Rhona Brankin launching the publication on 17 July. “Encouraging individuals to consider how their actions affect the environment is central to the Scottish Executive’s ‘Do a Little, Change a Lot’ campaign. Relatively small changes in people’s daily routines can build up to produce large benefits for the environment and it is our intention to make everyone aware of the importance of these small steps. So reducing the energy we consume, by walking short distances rather than using the car or not over filling the kettle are the kind of positive and easy steps we can take.”
“Public access to information on the environment is central to getting over this message,” Brankin added. “Access to such information enables the public to take decisions in the full knowledge of the likely environmental implications and to participate more effectively in the decision making process that affects the environment.”