Key Scottish Environment Statistics 2013

This publication aims to provide an easily accessible reference document which offers information on a wide range of environmental topics. It covers key datasets on the state of the environment in Scotland, with an emphasis on the trends over time wherever possible. The data are supplemented by text providing brief background information on environmental impacts, relevant legislation and performance against national and international targets.

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As a compendia publication considering many aspects of the environment, Key Scottish Environment Statistics may be used to provide an overview of how the environment in Scotland is changing. The environment is a key aspect to the success and well-being of Scotland. There are aspects of the environment which affect human health, wildlife and economic success. Scotland's environment is generally in a good condition but there remain areas where environmental quality is poor. Some of the main trends are highlighted below.

Annual mean temperatures in the 2000's were 0.9C higher than the 1961-1990 average, the highest for any decade since records began in 1910. 2010 was the tenth coldest year. The annual mean temperature in 2012 was 0.29C above the 1961-1990 average (Annual Mean Temperature: 1910-2012).

Net greenhouse gas emissions (taking account of emissions and removals) in 2011 were estimated to be 51.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), 9.9% (5.6 MtCO2e) lower than 2010 and 29.6% below 1990 levels (Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source: 1990-2011). Adjusting for trading in the EU Emissions Trading System the 2011 figure is 1.6 Mt CO2e lower than 2010, a 2.9% decrease, and 25.7% lower than the 1990 base year (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Adjusted to Take Account of Trading in the EU Emissions Trading System: 1990-2011). Figures for air quality indicate that UK Air Quality Strategy (AQS) Objectives were not met at some Scottish sites. In relation to nitrogen dioxide, 16 of 66 monitoring sites failed to meet an annual mean AQS objective in 2012, and 4 failed an hourly mean AQS objective. Ground level ozone objectives were met at 8 of 9 sites in 2012 and the second stage of the AQS for PM10 to be met by 2010 was not met at 8 of 58 Scottish sites (Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations: 1992-2012Ground Level Ozone Concentrations: 1990-2012). Between 1990 and 2010, there were reductions in Scottish emissions of PM10 and nitrogen oxides by 57% and 61%, respectively. There was no significant change in sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from large combustion plants in 2012 compared with 2011. (PM10 Concentrations: 1992-2012, Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations: 1992-2012Emissions of Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides from Large Combustion Plants: 1996-2012).

Drinking water quality and river water quality have both generally improved over time and between 2011 and 2012 (Drinking Water Quality: 1992-2012, River Water Quality: 1992-2012). The percentage of river sites with a mean nitrate concentration of ≥ 2.5 mg N/l was 19.9%, (Nitrate Concentrations in Rivers: 1993-2012). Sites with a mean orthophosphate concentration < 25µg P/l peaked at 68%, up from 67% in 2011 (Orthophosphate Concentrations in Rivers: 1993-2012). Bathing water quality has varied over time with 98% of bathing waters meeting the mandatory standard required by the 1976 EC Bathing Water Directive in 2012 (Compliance with the EC Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC): 1998-2012).

In 2011, total waste sent to landfill increased by 3% from 2010, but has shown a long term decrease of 58% from 2000 (Waste Sent to Landfill: 2000-2011). In 2011/12 41.2% of local authority municipal waste was recycled or composted, up from 38.2% in 2010/11 and 4.5% in 2000/01 (Local Authority Collected Municipal Solid Waste (LACMSW): 2000/01-2011/12). The proportion of households recycling waste items has increased each year since 2003 (Waste Recycling Behaviour: 2000-2011 and Food Waste Disposal: 2012).

Derelict and urban vacant land decreased slightly by between 2006 and 2012 (Derelict and Urban Vacant Land: 2006-2012). In 2013, 18.1% of Scotland's land was woodland, compared with 18% in 2012 and 16.4% in 1995 (Area of Woodland: 1924-2013). In 2012, Nutrient application rates (nitrogen, phosphate and potash) applied to crops and grass decreased continuing a downward trend since around 2000 (Nutrients Applied to Crops and Grass: 1986-2012). The area of designated protected areas has shown an upward trend over the long term (Designated Areas: 1991-2013).

Terrestrial breeding bird numbers increased by 11% between 1994 and 2011, but have seen a 14% reduction since 2008. Seabird abundance declined between 1991 and 2005 and, though it has stabilized between 2006 and 2010, was 57% lower in 2011 than in the 1991 peak. Wintering waterbird numbers have shown a 25% reduction from a peak in 1996 to 2010 (Status of Wild Bird Populations: 1975-2011).


Email: Callum Neil

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