Only 8% of the population but 50% to 75% of the removal of highly toxic pollutants. How Scotland’s natural assets are helping rid British air of pollutants


(c) Visit Scotland

OK, it’s our plants that are doing the work here but they’re Scottish plants aren’t they? Oh, OK lots of them are Canadian or Scandinavian but ‘we’ planted them and they’re part of our ‘capital’.

From an ONS report, three days ago, titled, ‘UK air pollution removal: how much pollution does vegetation remove in your area?’, see this table:

  Pollution Removed (kg)
SO2 O3 NO2 NH3 PM10 PM2.5
England 52,455,047 645,781,019 61,506,236 34,836,802 19,954,263 11,949,905
Scotland 13,807,376 374,910,673 8,910,305 7,918,132 14,609,396 6,320,170
Wales 6,490,633 99,067,872 4,887,410 4,712,166 4,495,873 2,389,691
N Ireland 3,650,441 58,179,811 2,115,496 5,836,153 1,817,582 938,369
Total 76,403,496 ########### 77,419,448 53,303,253 40,877,113 21,598,135

You can see, quickly, that Scotland’s plants help filter a high percentage of the pollutants affecting Britain but it’s with regard to the most dangerous ones, PM10 and PM2.5, that our plants do the most to help. See this from the same report:

‘Due to their small size, PM2.5 can stay in the air longer than heavier particles, increasing the likelihood of inhalation. This can be damaging to human health as they can bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs, triggering chronic disease such as asthma, heart disease, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. While 88% of the value of avoided health damage costs are attributable to the removal of PM2.5, this pollutant accounts for less than 2% of the physical volume of pollution removed from the atmosphere.’

To put this in context, in 2015:

  • Only 20% of PM2.5 was removed by vegetation
  • Across the UK around £1 billion in health costs was saved by the plant filtration
  • There were 7 100 fewer lung and heart-related admissions
  • 27 000 fewer life years lost
  • 1 900 fewer premature deaths

More 8%, but non-plant-based, stories:

8% of the population, nearly 9% of the exports but only 5.25% of the imports

Return of the meme? Only 8% of the population but Scotland has 21.7% of all independent renewable projects in the UK

Still 8% of the population but now 30% of UK food and drink exports?

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

With only 8% of the population, Scotland’s maritime sector accounts for 25% of the UK maritime sector’s (GVA) contribution to the economy and is 17.5% more productive than the UK marine oil and gas sector. Once more, too wee, too poor?

Once again, it’s the ‘8% of the UK population but much more of something good’ meme. This time it’s 33% of employee-owned firms in the UK



7 thoughts on “Only 8% of the population but 50% to 75% of the removal of highly toxic pollutants. How Scotland’s natural assets are helping rid British air of pollutants

  1. Ludo Thierry August 2, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    Hi John – great to learn of the continuing good work that Scotland’s well run forests are doing to help filter the pollutants our 21st century lifestyle is kicking into the atmosphere. Hopefully might help a few more of those who couldn’t see the wood for the trees in 2014?

    Also noticed on website regarding a further set of encouraging annual stats for Scotland’s drinking water quality. The comparative figures seem to run from 2012 – and show a halving of public complaints over that period – Yet another example of good, competent governance over the period of SNP Government perhaps? Bit by bit we’ll persuade those who voted ‘NO’ that they really are ‘Big Enough, Rich Enough, Smart Enough – and surely, by now, have Had Enough’. See snippet below:

    Issued on behalf of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland.

    The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland’s latest annual report shows that Scottish Water’s compliance with the stringent standards for drinking water remains high at 99.91%.

    Scottish Water take and analyse samples of drinking water from across Scotland 365 days a year. The report on Drinking Water Quality in Scotland 2017 states that a total of 305,459 regulatory tests were carried out on Scotland’s drinking water last year. Of those taken from samples at consumers’ taps, 99.91% met the required standards.

    The report also describes significant reductions in the number of consumers expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of their drinking water supply. In 2017, Scottish Water were contacted by 9,239 customers who were concerned over quality – that’s half the number reported in 2012.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ludo Thierry August 2, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    Wow – looks like there’s masses of stuff to try and keep on top of re. the Great Beeb London WOS YouTube Channel ‘Political Hit-Job’ (TM Eamon O’Neill Prof. of Journalism)

    Beeb Scotland actually having a couple of good days – Gary Robertson’s interview with Stu Campbell on GMS and then John Beattie’s interview with Ian Small (Beeb media relations honcho) and the Media View discussion with Eamon O’Neill and Anna Burnside (who couldn’t resist some cheap shots – but still seemed genuinely perturbed at beeb London behaviour).

    No-one is asking for beeb Scotland to be pro-Indy – all we ask is that they hold the other arguments put to the same degree of interogation as they do to the YES INDY arguments (actually, any kind of scrutiny of the counter arguments would be nice). Given that I complain when beeb Scotland act badly it is only fair to offer congratulations when they start to do their actual job vis a vis asking some awkward questions of their London bosses.

    All that brilliant stuff mustn’t pull our eyes away from the daily grind of good governance that the SNP Scottish Govt is achieving against the odds day by day. See snippet below from site re. the expansion of the Concessionary Bus Pass Scheme:

    Extending the concessionary travel scheme

    No change to the age of eligibility

    Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson has announced that the National Concessionary Travel Scheme will be extended to companions of eligible disabled children aged under five, which could result in over 3000 families and children additionally benefitting from the bus pass.

    Additionally, Mr Matheson announced that the age of eligibility will not change for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme and that the options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices will continue to be considered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Beastie August 3, 2018 / 5:35 am

    PM10 and PM2.5 are dust particles. Can it sensibly be said that there is a UK problem or even a Scottish problem to solve, rather than a set of local problems?


    • johnrobertson834 August 3, 2018 / 7:49 am

      Fair point. My article is a wee bit tongue-in-cheek in pursuit of my 8% meme.


  4. Contrary August 3, 2018 / 8:11 am

    Water, trees AND a bus pass at 60. All these things give me a happy calm feeling.

    Not so much happy about the BBC censorship of WoS YouTube channel – the excuses so far are spurious and the rhetoric of ‘we have to review copyright rules on news items’ worrying. The BBC are saying that it is just a process they go through, someone complains then they issue copyright brech notices to YouTube… So, any of us can complain about any BBC content on YouTube and they will issue notices without looking or checking them out? I very much doubt that and still think it was targeted. We haven’t heard from the actual perpetrators of course, this is all supposition and guess work from BBC Scotland, which is revealing in itself. There are not many reasons for a public broadcaster to want to suppress continued use of their news broadcasts, and it certainly isn’t for potential monetary worth.

    Serco changing the locks on asylum seekers – I was puzzling about this: is it really policy to just lock people out and leave them wandering the streets, with no recourse to eat or live except to beg or turn to crime, is that really the solution after rejecting an asylum application? It seems that is the law enforced by the home office. Good information from glasgow city council on the radio this morning, Tony Blair brought in the law in 1999, that no public money should be spent by the home office after an asylum application is rejected (there is a lengthy appeals process that can be engaged in after). So, with Syrian refugees, councils were left in charge and dealt with it well, but with the latest scandal the home office is in charge and the council has to be very careful about the help they give – it could be illegal! So the council is helping families with young children under well-being (?) conditions, and has instructed its lawyers to find out what else they can do legally. Something wrong with the law, the law dictated by the uk.


  5. Holebender August 3, 2018 / 9:13 am

    The numbers are good, but I’m not seeing the 50% – 75% stated in your headline. e.g. for PM2.5 the figures in your table are 6,320,170 out of a total of 21,598,135. I make that 29%. What am I missing?


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