One million people in Scotland living in 'dirty' communities

The impact of declining local environmental quality on Scotland's communities has been revealed in our latest report.

The report, Local Environmental quality in decline - further analysis, is based on data from over 14,000 surveys across Scotland.  It confirms that there has been a marked increase in the presence of litter, flytipping and graffiti in communities across the country, and an overall decline in local environmental quality.

Worryingly, the country’s most deprived communities are blighted by the highest levels of litter, graffiti, flytipping, detritus and weed growth, and it is in these communities that the decline is greatest, and accelerating.

This report follows one published in March 2016, which identified that standards were falling across Scotland, after years of improvements. Since then standards have slipped further in most indicators, despite some very positive initiatives from across sectors, and a very welcome decrease in dog fouling levels.

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“Overall local environmental quality standards across Scotland have reached their lowest point in over a decade. We are failing deprived communities the most, with 1 million people across the country living in dirty communities blighted by an increase in litter, graffiti and flytipping.

“The national picture is one of declining standards and neglect and has been caused by the perfect storm of austerity, unsustainable consumption, lack of civic pride and concern, and perhaps an increase in irresponsible behaviour.  We have always had a problem, but until now we’ve been able to cope and clean up.

“It is clear that the current disjointed approach is simply not working. This has allowed an environmental set-back to threaten our ambition for Scotland to be a socially just society.

“Improving local environmental quality is not just about reducing litter levels and removing graffiti. There are wider consequences of living in a poor local environment. It impacts on health and wellbeing outcomes, contributes towards people’s fear of crime and negatively impacts economic development.

“As a country which places great emphasis on the quality of our environment, we are calling for national and local action, to ensure that we do not stand by and watch whilst standards continue to decline to the point of no return.

“The reason for the growing divide between the quality of our environments in the most affluent and the most deprived communities is difficult to understand.  However, we know that those in more deprived areas tend to have less exposure to the information and resources which help them to ask for support and take action to address the issues themselves.  Many of our deprived communities are also densely populated or very rural, meaning that pressures on services are greater.

“We recognise that responding to declining local environmental quality is a challenge, and we are particularly sympathetic for hard pressed local authorities which are having to make increasingly difficult decisions on how budgets are prioritised.  This is why we are calling for environmental quality to be given priority attention by all of those with a part to play in the solution. From changing the behaviour of those in our society who act irresponsibly and create the problem, to taking political leadership and shared strategic action to formulate a new national plan that will reverse Scotland’s environmental decline.”

It is well established that that local environmental quality is linked to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes, as well as impacting on community safety and economic development in local communities. We are calling for political leadership to improve the outcomes and determined national action to reverse the decline in standards.


13 October 2017

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