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10 Environment

Main Findings

Climate change

Over half of adults (55 per cent) view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, an increase of 5 percentage points compared with 2015 (50 per cent). Concern about climate change has increased in particular among the 16-24 age group, and is lowest among the 75+ age group.

Recycling

More households are now disposing of their food waste in local authority-provided food caddies (56 per cent in 2016 compared with 26 per cent in 2012).

Households in flats are much more likely to dispose of their food waste with their general

waste as opposed to those living in houses (63 per cent compared to 39 per cent), while households in rural areas are more likely to use composting to dispose of their food waste

than households in urban areas (20 per cent compared to 8 per cent).

Visits to the outdoors and greenspace

Around half of adults (48 per cent) visited the outdoors at least once a week in the last year. This is around the same proportion as in 2015. Adults living in the most deprived areas were more likely not to have made any visits to the outdoors in the past twelve months (19 per cent) compared to those in the least deprived areas (7 per cent).

Those living closer to their nearest greenspace are more likely to use it more frequently.

Most adults (65 per cent) live within a five minute walk of their nearest area of greenspace, a similar proportion to 2015.

More than a third of adults (36 per cent) visit their nearest area of greenspace at least

once a week, which is around the same proportion since 2013, when comparable figures were first collected.

Most adults (75 per cent) are satisfied or very satisfied with their nearest area of

greenspace, a similar proportion to 2015.

10.1 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 [62] 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 [63] have been developed to track progress towards environmental outcomes. Two of these indicators, 'increase people's use of Scotland's outdoors' and ‘improve access to local greenspace’, are monitored using data from the Scottish Household Survey ( SHS).

Some local authorities also 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 the 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".

10.2 Attitudes to Climate Change

10.2.1 Introduction and Context

Action to address climate change is a high priority for the Scottish Government. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 [64] 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 draft Climate Change Plan [65] sets out how Scotland can deliver these targets over the period 2017–2032. The Scottish Government recognises that all sectors of society will need to contribute to meeting these targets. Its Low Carbon Behaviours Framework sets out a strategic approach to encourage low carbon lifestyles amongst individuals, households, communities and businesses in Scotland [66] .

Public attitudes towards climate change are likely to influence their willingness to support initiatives to address climate change, as well as to take action themselves. For the last four years the SHS has included a question about the immediacy of climate change as a problem, which was first asked in the Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours Survey ( SEABS) in 2008 [67] . The SHS results are discussed in relation to the SEABS results, although it is worth noting that there were some differences between the surveys. In the SEABS survey, respondents were asked a more detailed set of questions about the environment compared with the SHS, in which climate change is one of a wide range of topics on which respondents answer questions.

10.2.2 Attitudes about the Immediacy and Urgency of Climate Change

  • Increase in the proportion of adults who view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem.

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 10.1 shows an increase in the proportion of adults who view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, from 50 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent in 2016. The 2016 finding is now broadly the same as the SEABS finding of 57 per cent in 2008.

Table 10.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change
Column percentages

Adults 2013 2014 2015 2016
Climate change is an immediate and urgent problem 46 45 50 55
Climate change is more of a problem for the future 25 26 23 23
Climate change is not really a problem 7 8 7 6
I'm still not convinced that climate change is happening 13 11 11 9
No answer 3 3 3 2
Don't know 7 6 7 6
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 9,920 9,800 3,100 3,150

Variation in climate change attitudes: age

  • The lowest level of concern is among adults aged 75+.

Attitudes about the immediacy of climate change as a problem had previously varied by age, with the youngest and oldest age groups least likely to view climate change as an immediate problem. Since 2013, the greatest increase in concern has been among the youngest age group, aged 16-24. Fifty-three per cent of this group now consider climate change to be an immediate and urgent problem, broadly similar to the average across all age groups (see Figure 10.1), compared with 38 per cent in 2013. The lowest level of concern is among adults aged 75+ (37 per cent).

Figure 10.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by age
2016 data, Adults (minimum base: 260)

Figure 10.1: Perceived immediacy of the problem of climate change by age

Percentages may not add exactly to 100 per cent due to rounding.

Variation in climate change attitudes: educational attainment and deprivation

  • Adults with a degree or professional qualification are more likely to perceive climate change as an immediate problem.
  • Climate change is more likely to be perceived as an immediate problem by adults living in the least deprived quintile.

In 2016, there continues to be a gap in perceptions according to educational attainment and deprivation. Adults with a degree or professional qualification are more likely to perceive climate change as an immediate problem compared with adults with no qualifications. Climate change is more likely to be perceived as an immediate problem by adults living in the least deprived quintile, compared with adults living in the most deprived quintile.

10.3 Recycling

10.3.1 Introduction and Context

Scotland’s first circular economy strategy, "Making Things Last" [68] , published in February 2016, sets out the Scottish Government’s priorities for moving towards a more circular economy – where products and materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible.

Scottish Government's recycling and landfill targets, as originally set out in its 2010 "Zero Waste Plan" [69] , are as follows:

  • 60 per cent of household waste recycled by 2020;
  • 70 per cent of all waste recycled by 2025;
  • A ban on municipal biodegradable waste going to landfill from 1 January 2021;
  • No more than five per cent of all waste going to landfill by 2025.

In addition, a Scottish Food Waste Reduction Target was announced in February 2016 which commits to a 33 per cent reduction by 2025 against a 2013 baseline.

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 January 2017, the Scottish Government reported that 80 per cent of Scottish households (1.95 million) had access to a food waste collection service [70] . Zero Waste Scotland ( ZWS) and the Scottish Government have also led initiatives to help people reduce unnecessary food waste (e.g. the Love Food Hate Waste, ZWS Volunteer and Community Advocate Programme, and Greener Scotland campaigns), as well as to recycle food waste.

10.3.2 Food Waste Recycling

  • Steady increase in the number of people using food waste recycling caddies.
  • While more people in houses than flats use food waste recycling caddies, the proportion of use in flats is increasing.
  • Higher rate of food waste composting in rural areas.

There has been a steady increase in the number of people using food waste recycling caddies, rather than throwing food out with general waste. Less than half (48 per cent) of households now dispose of food waste with their general rubbish ( Figure 10.2), a decrease from 55 per cent of households in 2015. There has also been an increase in the proportion of households making use of local authority-provided food caddies between 2015 and 2016, from 46 per cent to 56 per cent. This represents a substantial increase from the 26 per cent of households using food waste recycling caddies in 2012. Ten per cent of households dispose of their food waste by home composting, which is a similar proportion to previous years.

Figure 10.2: Methods used to dispose of food waste in the past week
2016 data, Households (base: 3,430)

Figure 10.2: 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 10.2 shows that, in 2016, 39 per cent of those living in houses dispose of their food waste with general rubbish, down from 45 per cent in 2015. Whilst a higher proportion of those living in flats dispose of their food waste in this way (63 per cent), this has fallen from 73 per cent in 2015.

Table 10.2: Method used to dispose of food waste by property type
Percentages, 2016 data

Household House or bungalow Flat, maisonette or apartment Scotland
General waste with other rubbish 39 63 48
Local Authority-provided caddy or other receptacle 65 40 56
Home composting e.g. Heap in garden or allotment, green cone 13 4 10
Base 2,340 1,080 3,430

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

Consequently, a higher percentage of households living in houses use a food waste caddy (65 per cent) or home composting (13 per cent) to dispose of their food waste compared to households living in flats. This may reflect differences in the amount of space available for food waste caddies and home composting.

Table 10.3 shows that the largest difference between urban and rural households is in the higher rate of food waste composting in rural areas (20 per cent compared to eight per cent in urban areas). This might be due to households in some rural areas being provided with compost bins as opposed to food waste caddies.

Table 10.3: Methods used to dispose of food waste by Urban/Rural classification
Percentages, 2016 data

Household Urban Rural Scotland
General waste with other rubbish 48 46 48
Local Authority-provided caddy or other receptacle 57 52 56
Home composting e.g. Heap in garden or allotment, green cone 8 20 10
Base 2,700 730 3,430

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

10.4 Visits to the Outdoors, Greenspace

10.4.1 Introduction and Context

Spending time outdoors has been associated with numerous benefits, with urban green and open spaces having been shown to contribute to public health and wellbeing [71] .

Responsibility for promoting visits to the outdoors is shared between Scottish Natural Heritage, other agencies such as Forestry Commission Scotland, local authorities and the National Park Authorities. Local authorities and National Park Authorities are also responsible for developing core path networks in their areas. People have a right of access to most land and inland water in Scotland, for walking, cycling and other non-motorised activities.

The National Performance Framework includes two National Indicators which aim to measure progress in this area. These are:

  • 'Increase people's use of Scotland's outdoors' [72] , and
  • ‘Improve access to local greenspace’ [73] .

The second indicator was added during the recent National Performance Framework review to reflect the importance of accessibility to greenspace in Scottish Planning Policy ( SPP) [74] and National Planning Framework 3 ( NPF3) [75] , which aims to significantly enhance green infrastructure networks, particularly in and around Scotland’s cities and towns.

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.

Visits to the Outdoors

  • Nearly half of Scottish adults visit Scotland's outdoors at least once a week and this figure has been stable in recent years.

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

The proportion of adults visiting the outdoors at least once a week in 2016 is similar to that in 2015. Forty-eight per cent of Scottish adults visited Scotland's outdoors at least once a week in 2016 compared to 49 per cent in 2015 (see Table 10.4). The figure is stable over time with figures only varying by 1-2 per cent annually since 2013 figure. A further fifth of adults report visiting the outdoors at least once a month while 13 per cent of adults report that they did not visit the outdoors at all in 2016, both similar proportions to 2015.

Table 10.4: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors
Column percentages

Adults 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
One or more times a week 42 46 48 49 48
At least once a month 19 20 19 20 20
At least once a year 20 18 17 17 18
Not at all 20 16 16 14 13
Base 9,890 9,920 9,800 9,410 9,640

Variation in outdoors visits: area deprivation

  • Adults in the most deprived areas visit the outdoors less.

There is substantial variation in the proportion of adults making visits to the outdoors by level of area deprivation (Table 10.5). In the most deprived areas of Scotland, 40 per cent of adults visit the outdoors at least once a week, compared to 55 per cent of adults in the least deprived areas. Adults in the most deprived areas are also more likely not to have visited the outdoors at all in the past twelve months (19 per cent) compared to those in the least deprived areas (7 per cent).

Table 10.5: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults ← 20% most deprived 20% least deprived → Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
One or more times per week 40 46 50 52 55 48
At least once a month 19 20 19 21 23 20
At least once a year 21 19 19 16 15 18
Not at all 19 15 13 12 7 13
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,880 1,990 2,070 1,970 1,730 9,640

Variation in outdoors visits: rural urban classification

  • Adults living in rural areas are more likely to visit the outdoors.

Table 10.6 shows that adults living in rural areas are more likely to visit the outdoors at least once a week compared to adults living in urban areas (55 per cent compared to 47 per cent).

Table 10.6: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors in the past twelve months by Urban/Rural classification
Column percentages, 2016 data

Household Urban Rural Scotland
Once or more times a week 47 55 48
At least once a month 21 17 20
At least once a year 19 16 18
Not at all 13 13 13
Total 100 100 100
Base 7,640 2,010 9,640

Variation in outdoors visits: gender and age group

  • Younger people are more likely to visit the outdoors.

There was a small difference between men and women in the proportion visiting the outdoors at least once a week in 2016 ( Table 10.7).

Thirty-two per cent of the over 75 age group report that they did not visit the outdoors at all in the past twelve months, which may reflect declining mobility and accessibility issues.

Table 10.7: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors in the past twelve months by gender and age group
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults Male Female 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60-74 75+ All
One or more times per week 50 47 54 51 53 48 47 32 48
At least once a month 21 20 20 26 24 20 17 14 20
At least once a year 16 20 18 16 16 20 18 20 18
Not at all 13 13 8 8 7 12 17 34 13
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 4,400 5,240 730 1,270 1,480 2,380 2,450 1,330 9,640

Variation in outdoors visits: health

  • Less people with poor health visit the outdoors.

This is further reflected in the high proportion of those adults describing their health as either bad or very bad, who did not visit the outdoors at all in the last year (44 per cent). Conversely, 53 per cent of adults who describe their health as good or very good report that they visit the outdoors at least once a week ( Table 10.8).

Table 10.8: Frequency of visits made to the outdoors in the past twelve months by self-perception of health
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults Good / Very Good Fair Bad / Very Bad All
Once or more times a week 53 41 23 48
At least once a month 22 19 12 20
At least once a year 17 21 21 18
Not at all 8 20 44 13
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,730 2,020 880 9,640

10.4.2 Walking Distance to Local Greenspace

  • Nearly two-thirds of adults reported living within a 5 minute walk of their nearest greenspace. This figure has remained relatively stable over time.

Accessibility of greenspace is an important factor in its use, both in terms of its proximity to people's homes and the ease of physical access. The accessibility standard is taken to be equivalent to a five minute walk to the nearest publicly usable open space, which is the measurement used for the National Indicator. Greenspace is defined in the SHS as public green or open spaces in the local area such as parks, play areas, canal paths and beaches (private gardens are not included).

Respondents are asked how far the nearest greenspace is from their home and how long they think it would take the interviewer to walk there.

In 2016, 65 per cent of adults reported living within a 5 minute walk of their nearest greenspace, down slightly from 67 per cent in 2015 (see Figure 10.3). While it is lower in 2016 there is not sufficient variation to suggest a trend. The earlier figures are 68 per cent in 2013, 69 per cent in 2014.

Figure 10.3: Walking distance to nearest greenspace
2016 data. Random adults (base: 9,640)

Figure 10.3: Walking distance to nearest greenspace

10.4.3 Frequency of Use of Local Greenspace

  • There has been little change in how often local greenspace is used over time. Variation over the whole time series is no more than 2 per cent for all categories.
  • Just over a third of adults visit their nearest green space several times a week.
  • Nearly a quarter of adults did not visit their nearest greenspace during a week.
  • People who live within 5 minutes of their nearest greenspace use it more frequently than those who live further away.
  • Those who feel healthier use their nearest greenspace more frequently.

As shown in Figure 10.4, there has been little change in how often local greenspace is used between 2015 and 2016. The question was added in 2012, and the figures are comparable back to 2013. In both 2015 and 2016, 36 per cent of adults reported visiting their nearest green space several times a week, while 23 per cent of adults reported not visiting their nearest greenspace at all during the same period. The figures are stable over time [76] .

Figure 10.4: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace
2015 and 2016 data. Random adults (minimum base: 9,300)

Figure 10.4: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace

Table 10.9 shows that a higher proportion of people who live within 5 minutes of their nearest greenspace report using it at least once a week compared to people who live a 6-10 minute walk away (45 per cent compared to 23 per cent). The proportion of people who live at least 11 minutes’ walk from their nearest greenspace and do not use it (38 per cent) is nearly twice the corresponding proportion of people who live within 5 minutes’ walk (20 per cent).

Table 10.9: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by walking distance to nearest greenspace
Column percentages, 2016 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 23 13 36
Once a week or less 35 51 50 41
Not at all 20 26 38 23
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,260 1,960 1,270 9,490

As shown in Table 10.10, people’s perception of their own health has a significant impact on how often they visit their nearest greenspace. A higher proportion of people who describe their health as good or very good report using their nearest greenspace several times a week (39 per cent) than those who describe their health as bad or very bad (20 per cent). Furthermore a higher proportion of people who describe their health as bad or very bad report not visiting their nearest greenspace at all in the last 12 months (50 per cent) than those people describing their health as good or very good (19 per cent).

Table 10.10: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by self-perception of health
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults Good / Very Good Fair Bad / Very Bad All
Every day / Several times a week 39 31 20 36
Once a week or less 42 39 30 41
Not at all 19 30 50 23
Total 100 100 100 100
Base 6,650 1,980 840 9,490

10.4.4 Satisfaction with Local Greenspace

  • Three quarters of adults described themselves as satisfied with their nearest greenspace.
  • Those who describe their neighbourhood as a fairly good or very good place to live are more satisfied with their local greenspace.
  • Satisfaction with greenspace does not have as strong an effect on the frequency of use.

In order to be effective, greenspace needs to be viewed as suitable for use by the local population. If individuals feel that greenspace is unsafe, unclean or otherwise not fit for purpose then they may be less likely to make use of it. Three quarters of adults described themselves as satisfied with their nearest greenspace in 2016, while only nine per cent were dissatisfied (see Figure 10.5).

Figure 10.5: Satisfaction with nearest greenspace
2016 data, Adults (base: 9,490)

Figure 10.5: Satisfaction with nearest greenspace

Table 10.11 shows that those who describe their neighbourhood as a fairly good or very good place to live are more satisfied with their local greenspace than those who rate their neighbourhood as a fairly poor or very poor place to live. This may be because higher levels of satisfaction with local greenspace contribute to a more favourable impression of the neighbourhood in general, or vice versa.

Table 10.11: Satisfaction with nearest greenspace by rating of neighbourhood as place to live
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults Very good Fairly good Fairly poor Very poor No opinion Scotland
Satisfied/Fairly Satisfied 80 72 51 55 * 75
Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied 8 12 21 18 * 10
Dissatisfied/Fairly Dissatisfied 7 11 20 20 * 9
No opinion 6 5 8 7 * 6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 5,630 3,400 320 110 20 9,490

While those living closer to their nearest greenspace are more likely to use it more frequently, level of satisfaction with local greenspace does not have an ordinal interaction on the frequency of use (see Table 10.12). The proportion of those satisfied or fairly satisfied who use their greenspace every day or several days a week is higher than for the other satisfaction levels. However a higher proportion of those who are dissatisfied or fairly dissatisfied use their greenspace more frequently than those who are neither satisfied or dissatisfied.

Table 10.12: Use of nearest greenspace by satisfaction with nearest greenspace
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults Satisfied/ Fairly Satisfied Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied Dissatisfied/ Fairly Dissatisfied No opinion All
Every day / Several times a week 42 18 31 - 36
Once a week or less 43 42 41 4 41
Not at all 15 41 27 95 23
Base 7,190 870 740 700 9,490

10.4.5 Greenspace by level of area deprivation

  • Adults in the most deprived areas are more likely to live further from their nearest greenspace.
  • Adults in the most deprived areas are less likely to be satisfied with their nearest greenspace.
  • Adults in more deprived areas are less likely to use their nearest greenspace.

People’s distance from their nearest greenspace and their use and satisfaction of that space vary with the level of area deprivation. Table 10.13 shows that a greater proportion of adults in deprived areas live at least an 11 minute walk away from their nearest greenspace compared to adults in the least deprived areas (17 per cent compared to 11 per cent).

Table 10.13: Walking distance to nearest greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults ← 20% most deprived 20% least deprived → Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
A 5 minute walk or less 55 66 68 71 67 65
Within a 6-10 minute walk 26 21 17 15 22 20
11 minute walk or greater 17 12 14 12 11 13
Don't Know 2 2 1 1 - 1
All 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,880 1,990 2,070 1,970 1,730 9,640

Also, Table 10.14 shows that adults in the most deprived areas are less likely to be satisfied with their nearest greenspace than adults in the least deprived areas. This could lead to fewer people in deprived areas making use of their nearest greenspace, as people are more likely to use greenspace if it is close by and of good quality.

Table 10.14: Satisfaction of nearest greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults ← 20% most deprived 20% least deprived → Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
Satisfied/Fairly Satisfied 65 73 77 80 81 75
Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied 14 10 10 8 8 10
Dissatisfied/Fairly Dissatisfied 14 12 7 6 6 9
No opinion 7 6 6 6 4 6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,840 1,950 2,040 1,940 1,720 9,490

This is supported by the figures in Table 10.15. Adults in the most deprived areas are more likely than adults in the least deprived areas not to have used their nearest greenspace in the past 12 months (31 per cent compared to 17 per cent). Adults in more deprived areas are also less likely to use their nearest greenspace several times a week compared to adults in less deprived areas.

Table 10.15: Frequency of use of nearest greenspace by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Column percentages, 2016 data

Adults ← 20% most deprived 20% least deprived → Scotland
1 2 3 4 5
Every day / Several times a week 28 34 39 40 39 36
Once a week or less 41 41 38 39 44 41
Not at all 31 25 23 21 17 23
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,840 1,950 2,040 1,940 1,720 9,490

Conclusion

This chapter has summarised Scottish Household Survey findings on the environment. This has covered climate change, recycling, and visits to the outdoors and greenspace.


Contact

Email: Emma McCallum, emma.mccallum@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG