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Scotland's People Annual Report: Results from 2014 Scottish Household Survey

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11 Environment

11.1 Introduction and Context

The Scottish Government and partners are working towards creating a greener Scotland by improving the natural and built environment, and protecting it for present and future generations. Actions are being taken to reduce local and global environmental impacts, through tackling climate change, moving towards a zero-waste Scotland through the development of a more circular economy, increasing the use of renewable energy and conserving natural resources. The Scottish Government is also committed to promoting the enjoyment of the countryside and of green spaces in and around towns and cities.

There are a number of Scottish Government National Outcomes relating to the environment[64] including:

  • We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations;
  • We reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production; and
  • We live in well-designed, sustainable places where we are able to access the amenities and services we need.

A range of National Indicators[65] have been developed to track progress towards environmental outcomes. One of these indicators, 'increase people's use of Scotland's outdoors', is now monitored using data from the Scottish Household Survey (SHS). Other relevant national indicators include 'reduce Scotland's carbon footprint' and 'reduce waste generated' (although these are monitored using data sources other than the SHS). Some local authorities use the SHS to assess progress towards environmental objectives, including those in their Single Outcome Agreements (a statement of the outcomes that they want to see for their local area). This chapter begins by exploring attitudes towards climate change and then reports findings on recycling of waste. It finishes by looking at visits to the outdoors and access to local greenspace.

Responses to questions on litter and dog fouling are found in Chapter 4 ‑ "Neighbourhoods and Communities".

Main Findings

Climate change

Less than half of adults (45 per cent) viewed climate change as an immediate and urgent problem. Eight per cent felt it was not really a problem and 11 per cent were not convinced that climate change is happening.

Adults with a degree or professional qualification were twice as likely to view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem compared with adults with no qualifications (61 per cent compared with 29 per cent).

Adults aged 16 to 24 and those aged 75 and over were least likely to consider climate change to be an urgent problem (40 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively).

Recycling

More households are now disposing of their food waste in local authority-provided food caddies (40 per cent in 2014 compared with 26 per cent in 2012).

Households in flats are much more likely to dispose of their food waste mixed with their general waste (74 per cent), while households in rural areas were much more likely to use composting (17 per cent).

Around 4 out of 5 (around 80 per cent) of households generally recycle each of the five main categories of dry recyclable materials. Those in houses and who owned their own home were more likely to recycle all types of materials compared to households that rent.

Visits to the outdoors and greenspace

Around half of adults visited the outdoors at least once a week in the last year (48 per cent). Only 32 per cent of adults that were aged 75 or older visited the outdoors once a week.

Most adults (69 per cent) live within a five minute walk of their nearest area of greenspace.

More than a third of adults visit their nearest area of greenspace more often than once week or more (37 per cent).

Around three-quarters (76 per cent) of adults are satisfied or very satisfied with their nearest area of greenspace.

11.2 Attitudes to Climate Change

11.2.1 Introduction and Context

Action to address climate change is a high priority for the Scottish Government. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009[66] set a target of reducing Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, compared with the 1990 baseline. The Scottish Government's Second Report on Proposals and Policies (RPP2)[67] for meeting its climate change targets sets out how Scotland can deliver these targets over the period 2013-2027. The Low Carbon Behaviours Framework[68] sets out a strategic approach to encourage low carbon lifestyles amongst individuals, households and businesses in Scotland.

Public attitudes about the extent to which climate change is an immediate problem for Scotland are likely to influence their willingness to support initiatives to address climate change and to change their own behaviours. For the last two years the SHS has included a question about views on the immediacy and urgency of climate change. Respondents were presented with four different statements about the problem of climate change and asked which, if any, came closest to their own view.

Table 11.1 shows that the 2014 findings were very similar to those from 2013, with less than half of adults viewing climate change as an immediate and urgent problem (45 per cent in 2014 compared with 46 per cent in 2013). In 2014, around a quarter of adults (26 per cent) considered that climate change was more of a problem for the future, eight per cent of adults felt that climate change was not really a problem and 11 per cent of adults were still not convinced that climate change is happening.

Table 11.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change

Column percentages

Adults 2013 2014
Climate change is an immediate and urgent problem 46 45
Climate change is more of a problem for the future 25 26
Climate change is not really a problem 7 8
I'm still not convinced that climate change is happening 13 11
No answer 3 3
Don't know 7 6
Total 100 100
Base 9,920 9,800

Views on the urgency of climate change are closely related to educational attainment. In 2014, around six out of ten adults with a degree or professional qualification considered that climate change was an immediate and urgent problem, twice as many compared with adults with no qualifications (around three out of ten) (see Figure 11.1).

Figure 11.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by the highest level of qualification

2014 data, Adults (minimum base: 480)

Figure 11.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by the highest level of qualification

Attitudes about the urgency of climate change as a problem varies across age groups. The youngest and oldest adults are least likely to consider it an urgent problem. In 2014, four in ten adults (40 per cent) aged 16 to 24 and around three in ten adults (31 per cent) aged 75 and over took this view, compared with 45 per cent of all adults. Figure 11.2 shows these findings for 2014.

Figure 11.2: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by age

2014 data, Adults (minimum base: 790)

Figure 11.2: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by age

11.3 Recycling

11.3.1 Introduction and Context

The Scottish Government's Zero Waste Plan (2010)[69] sets an agenda to transform the way in which waste is viewed and managed in Scotland - in line with a vision where all waste is seen as a resource. The plan sets a target to recycle at least 70 per cent of Scotland's waste by 2025. Building on this, the 2012 Safeguarding Scotland's Resources - Blueprint for a More Resource Efficient and Circular Economy[70] initiates a programme to reduce waste and deliver economic and environmental benefits.

To help achieve Scotland's recycling targets, the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 require local authorities to provide separate household collections for recyclable materials. Outwith specified rural areas this includes collection of food waste. Food collected for recycling can be processed to produce nutrient-rich fertilisers and biogas - a low carbon energy source. In June 2014, Zero Waste Scotland estimated that 56 per cent of Scottish households (1.3 million) had access to a food waste collection service[71]. Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government have also led initiatives to help people reduce unnecessary food waste (e.g. the Love Food Hate Waste and Greener Scotland campaigns), as well as to recycle food waste.

11.3.2 Food Waste Recycling

Food waste disposal has shown steady improvement in the number of people using recycling caddies rather than throwing food out in general waste. In 2014, 60 per cent of households disposed of food waste in their general rubbish (Figure 11.3), down from 65 per cent in 2013 and 73 per cent in 2012. There was a corresponding increase in households making use of local authority-provided food caddies, up from 26 per cent in 2012 and 37 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2014. Less than one in ten Scottish households composted their food waste in 2014 (seven per cent) compared with nine per cent in 2013.

Figure 11.3: Methods used to dispose of food waste in the past week

2014 data, Households (base: 3,530)

Figure 11.3: Methods used to dispose of food waste in the past week

Percentages add to more than 100 per cent since multiple responses were allowed.

Table 11.2 shows that a larger percentage of households living in flats (74 per cent) put their food waste in the general rubbish compared to those living in houses (51 per cent). Correspondingly, a smaller percentage of those living in flats used a food waste caddy (27 per cent) or home composting (two per cent) compared to others. This may reflect reduced provision of food waste caddies or unavailability of space, including gardens, among households living in flats.

Table 11.2: Method used to dispose of food waste by house type

Percentages, 2014 data

Household House or bungalow Flat, maisonette or apartment Scotland
General waste with other rubbish 51 74 60
Local Authority-provided caddy or other receptacle 47 27 40
Home composting e.g. Heap in garden or allotment, green cone 10 2 7
Base 2,360 1,160 3,530

Columns may not add to 100 per cent since multiple responses were allowed.

Table 11.3 shows that the key difference between urban and rural households is the higher rate of food waste composting in rural areas (17 per cent compared to five per cent), perhaps due to the increased space for gardens.

Table 11.3: Methods used to dispose of food waste by urban / rural split

Percentages, 2014 data

Household Urban Rural Scotland
General waste with other rubbish 60 57 60
Local Authority-provided caddy or other receptacle 40 36 40
Home composting e.g. Heap in garden or allotment, green cone 5 17 7
Base 2,810 720 3,530

Columns may not add to 100 per cent since multiple responses were allowed.

11.3.3 Recycling of Dry Recyclable Materials

Around four-fifths of households reported that, in general, they recycle each of the dry recyclable materials. This was highest for paper (83 per cent) and lowest for glass (75 per cent).

Figure 11.4: Household who report they generally recycled certain materials

2014 data, Households (base: 3,530)

Figure 11.4: Household who report they generally recycled certain materials

Percentages add to more than 100 per cent since multiple responses were allowed.

Table 11.4 shows households living in flats have a lower rate of recycling for all materials compared to households living in houses. This difference is largest for cans and tins, where 86 per cent of people living in houses report they recycle these compared to 60 per cent of households living in flats.

Table 11.4: Recycling of materials by type of property

Percentages, 2014 data

Household House or bungalow Flat, maisonette or apartment Scotland
Paper 91 68 83
Card 89 68 81
Glass 83 59 75
Metal 86 60 77
Plastic 88 65 80
Base 2,360 1,160 3,530

Table 11.5 shows households renting their property were less likely to recycle materials than owner-occupier households across all material types, with the biggest difference being in glass (84 per cent compared to 61 per cent).

Table 11.5: Recycling of materials by tenure

Percentages, 2014 data

Household Owner occupier Rented Scotland
Paper 91 71 83
Card 89 70 81
Glass 84 61 75
Metal 86 64 77
Plastic 87 68 80
Base 2,170 1,310 3,530

Recycling behaviour shows a clear pattern across areas with different levels of deprivation, as shown in Table 11.6. The most deprived areas have the lowest rates of recycling and rates improve in the least deprived areas.

Table 11.6: Recycling of materials by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Percentages, 2014 data

Households ←20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
Paper 73 81 83 88 90 83
Card 72 79 80 87 89 81
Glass 63 69 75 82 87 75
Metal 66 74 79 80 86 77
Plastic 71 78 80 84 88 80
Base 700 730 730 780 590 3,530

11.4 Visits to the Outdoors and Local Greenspace

11.4.1 Introduction and Context

Enjoyment of the outdoors brings people into closer contact with the natural environment. Outdoor recreation is associated with improved quality of life, including better health and wellbeing[72]. The importance of outdoors recreation is reflected in the National Indicator to 'increase people's use of Scotland's outdoors'[73]

Responsibility for promoting visits to the outdoors is shared between Scottish Natural Heritage, local authorities and other agencies such as Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Park Authorities, while local authorities and National Park Authorities are responsible for developing core path networks in their areas.

Increasing people's participation in physical activity is a Scottish Government priority. In 2014, the Scottish Government launched the National Physical Activity Implementation Plan[74] which provides the framework for delivering the active legacy ambitions for the Commonwealth Games. A key element in delivering this ten year plan is the National Walking Strategy[75] which was also launched in 2014. The approach to managing outdoor access in Scotland creates opportunities for physical activity through recreation and active travel. People have a right of access to most land and inland water in Scotland, for walking, cycling and other non-motorised activities.

This section starts by looking at key factors and characteristics associated with outdoor visits for leisure and recreation purposes. This is followed by an exploration of the access and use of greenspace for adults in the local neighbourhood and their satisfaction with that greenspace.

11.4.2 Visits to the Outdoors

This National Indicator is measured by the proportion of adults making one or more visits to the outdoors per week. Outdoor visits for leisure and recreation purposes includes both urban and countryside open spaces (for example, to parks, woodland, farmland, paths and beaches) and for a range of purposes (such as walking, running, cycling or kayaking).

Table 11.7 shows that 48 per cent of Scottish adults visited Scotland's outdoors one or more times a week in 2014. This represents an increase from 2013 when the figure was 46 per cent. A further fifth of adults (19 per cent) visited the outdoors at least once a month in 2014. The proportion of adults who reported they had never visited the outdoors in the last twelve months remained static at 16 per cent.

Table 11.7: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults 2012 2013 2014
One or more times a week 42 46 48
At least once a month 19 20 19
At least once a year 20 18 17
Not at all 20 16 16
Base 9,890 9,920 9,800

There is substantial variation in the proportion of adults making visits to the outdoors by level of area deprivation (Table 11.8). While 40 per cent of adults in the 20 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland visited the outdoors at least once a week, this is less than the 57 per cent of adults in the 20 per cent least deprived areas. Adults in the 20 per cent most deprived areas were more likely never to have visited the outdoors in the past twelve months (23 per cent) compared to those in the 20 per cent least deprived areas (nine per cent).

Table 11.8: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults ←20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
One or more times per week 40 46 48 51 57 48
At least once a month 18 17 21 21 20 19
At least once a year 19 18 16 16 14 17
Not at all 23 19 15 12 9 16
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,920 2,000 2,110 2,110 1,660 9,800

Table 11.9 shows that men are slightly more likely to visit the outdoors at least once a week. Over 40 per cent of the over 75 age group reported never visiting the outdoors in the past twelve months, which may reflect declining mobility and accessibility issues.

Table 11.9: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors by gender and age

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults Male Female 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60-74 75+ All
One or more times per week 51 46 50 53 51 52 44 32 48
At least once a month 19 20 20 22 23 19 17 12 19
At least once a year 15 18 18 16 16 16 18 15 17
Not at all 15 16 11 9 9 13 21 41 16
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 4,440 5,360 790 1,360 1,430 2,530 2,390 1,310 9,800

11.4.3 Walking Distance to Local Greenspace

Accessibility of outdoor recreation space is an important factor in its use, both in terms of its proximity to people's homes and physical access. Another important influence is how safe people feel in the greenspace. The accessibility standard is taken to be equivalent to a five minute walk to the nearest publicly usable open space[76]. Greenspace is defined in the SHS as a park, green or other area of grass in the neighbourhood (but excludes private gardens).

In 2014, 69 per cent of adults reported living within a 5 minute walk of their nearest greenspace.

Table 11.10 Shows that adults in deprived areas are slightly more likely to live further from their nearest greenspace, which may reflect the tendency for some urban areas to be more deprived.

Table 11.11 shows that neighbourhoods which are perceived as very poor by residents are more likely to be areas which have greater distances to the nearest greenspace. This may indicate that nearby greenspace may improve resident's attitudes to their local area.

Figure 11.5: Distance to nearest greenspace

2014 data. Random adults (base: 9,650)

Figure 11.5: Distance to nearest greenspace

Table 11.10: Walking distance to nearest greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults ←20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
A 5 minute walk or less 62 66 72 72 71 69
Within a 6-10 minute walk 21 21 17 16 19 19
11 minute walk or greater 15 12 10 12 9 11
Don't Know 2 1 1 1 1 1
All 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,920 2,000 2,110 2,110 1,660 9,800

Table 11.11: Walking distance to nearest greenspace by rating of neighbourhood as place to live

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults Very good Fairly good Fairly poor Very poor All
A 5 minute walk or less 71 66 60 58 69
Within a 6-10 minute walk 17 21 24 18 19
An 11 minute walk or greater 11 12 14 21 11
Don't Know 1 1 2 3 1
Total 100 100 100 100 100
Base 5,670 3,590 360 160 9,800

11.4.4 Frequency of Use of Local Greenspace

As shown in Figure 11.6, over 37 per cent of adults visit their nearest green space several times a week, but nearly a quarter reported never visiting it in the last twelve months.

Figure 11.6: Frequency of use of local greenspace

2014 data. Random adults (base: 9,650)

Figure 11.6: Frequency of use of local greenspace

Table 11.12 shows that usage of greenspace increases the nearer a person lives to an area of greenspace. This intuitive result supports the accessibility standard for greenspace, as participation declines when households live outwith the five minute standard.

Table 11.12: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by walking distance to nearest greenspace

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults A 5 minute walk or less Within a 6-10 minute walk An 11 minute walk or more All
Every day/Several times a week 45 24 13 37
Once a week or less 34 47 48 39
Not at all 20 29 38 24
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,600 1,870 1,180 9,650

Table 11.13 shows that people in the most deprived areas use their nearest greenspace less often than those in areas which are not as deprived.

Table 11.13: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults ←20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
Every day/Several times a week 31 33 39 42 41 37
Once a week or less 37 37 39 38 43 39
Not at all 32 29 22 20 16 24
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,880 1,970 2,070 2,100 1,640 9,650

11.4.5 Greenspace and Health

General health has a strong influence on how often a person uses their nearest greenspace. More than half (53 per cent) of people who rated their health as bad or very bad never visited their nearest greenspace. This may reflect issues with mobility and the accessibility of their local greenspace.

Table 11.14: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by self-perception of health

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults Good/Very Good Fair Bad/Very Bad All
Every day/Several times a week 40 31 21 37
Once a week or less 40 36 26 39
Not at all 19 33 53 24
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,820 2,050 780 9,650

Table 11.15 shows that adults who report that their health in general had been very good or good are more likely to live within five minutes of their nearest greenspace than those who reported their health was bad or very bad (70 per cent versus 56 per cent). It is not possible to say from this data the strength of influence of accessibility to greenspace on health, merely that there is an association. Scottish Government funded research found that green and open spaces contribute to public health and wellbeing, particularly mental health and wellbeing, but that the relationships are complex[77].

Table 11.15: Walking distance to nearest greenspace by self-perception of health

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adult Good/Very Good Fair Bad/Very Bad All
A 5 minute walk or less 70 66 56 69
Within a 6-10 minute walk 18 19 21 19
An 11 minute walk or greater 10 14 19 11
Don't Know 1 1 4 1
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,890 2,090 810 9,800

11.4.6 Satisfaction with Local Greenspaces

In order to be effective, greenspaces need to be viewed as suitable for use by the local population. If individuals feel that greenspaces are unsafe, unclean or otherwise not fit for purpose then people may be less likely to make use of them. Over 75 per cent of adults are satisfied with their nearest greenspace, while only nine per cent were dissatisfied.

Figure 11.7: Satisfaction with local greenspace

2014 data, Adults (base: 9,650)

Figure 11.7: Satisfaction with local greenspace

Table 11.16 shows that satisfaction with local greenspaces is generally lower in areas which have greater levels of deprivation, while local greenspaces in areas which are not as deprived are more often reported as being satisfactory.

Table 11.16: Satisfaction with local greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2014 data

Adults ←20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
Satisfied 66 72 79 82 82 76
Neither 11 11 7 7 8 9
Dissatisfied 15 9 8 7 5 9
No opinion 8 8 6 4 4 6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,880 1,970 2,070 2,100 1,640 9,650