Scottish poor more likely to suffer from environmental blights

Research in Scotland has confirmed what many already expected - if you are poor you are likely to suffer from more pollution, worse air quality and closer proximity to tracts of derelict land than your more affluent neighbours.

The national snapshot of environmental justice is the first of its kind in Scotland and took a year to carry out.

But while the overall findings were predictable, there were some surprises too.

Deprived populations were actually less likely to live near clusters of landfill sites and had benefited from the planting of more new woodlands near their homes than their wealthier compatriots.

Industrial pollution, however, was found to be much more common in deprived areas, with those in the poorest areas found to be three times as likely to have a source of it than the wealthiest.

Derelict land was five times as common in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived.

Air quality in Scotland was found to be good overall, but the relatively rare instances where it did not meet European targets were concentrated in deprived areas.

The investigation was commissioned by the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research and carried out by team from Staffordshire and Leeds Universities and looked at the entire population in 2.3 million households.

Lead researcher Jon Fairburn said: “Whilst analysing data in this way on a national scale does not provide all the answers, the evidence suggests there are some significant environmental inequalities in Scotland.

“This is only a start with regards to environmental justice and more in depth work is needed to get a better understanding of the issues.

“We provided a series of recommendations concerning how data can be improved, what research needs to be done and how this can be monitored over time.

“Hopefully these will prove useful in keeping Scotland at the leading edge for environmental justice issues.”

by Sam Bond

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