Investigating Environmental Justice in Scotland: Links between Measures of Environmental Quality and Social Deprivation

March 2005

  1. The overall aim of this research project was to consider the extent to which communities of people in Scotland living at different levels of deprivation also live in proximity to factors affecting environmental quality. The presumption is often made that there is coincidence between poor environmental quality and deprived communities in Scotland. This project sought to develop an evidence base to explore this presumption and to help inform future policy directions.
  2. The project involved a review of past research in the environmental equity field; a scoping and evaluation of data sets; and an analysis of 8 environmental topics against patterns of multiple deprivation throughout Scotland.
  3. The results of this analysis provide an initial view of the spatial and social distribution of key aspects of environmental quality across Scotland, with a recognition that this analysis can only provide a relatively basic and initial exploration of complex social and environmental phenomena.
  4. For each of the 8 environmental topics analysis was undertaken against the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. Use was also made of spatially precise household location data in order to estimate populations in proximity to environmental features. Patterns of clustering and differences between urban and rural populations were also examined where relevant.
  5. The analysis showed the following:
  6. Recommendations have been made relating to the limitations of current environmental data sets for environmental justice analysis and the ways in which these may be overcome; approaches which can be taken to monitoring change in patterns of inequality over time; and priority areas for further research.

Key words: environmental justice, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, air quality, industrial pollution, derelict land, quarries, forestry, green space, river water quality, GIS.

Project Partners: Scottish Executive, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission

Copies of this report are available in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 +VAT or hard copy at 35.00, less 20% to FWR members.

N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website