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Compendium of UK Statistics: Environment

Main comparisons: Environment

This environment summary has been produced as part of the Compendium of UK Statistics. It sits alongside the population and migration, economy and social indicator themes and presents key comparable statistics for the four countries of the UK. The statistics provided are the latest comparable figures as available on 5 June 2014. There will be no further updates before 18 September 2014.

The full data catalogue provides web links to the statistical releases and assessments of the comparability of the statistics. The figures presented here have been assessed as fully comparable.

For more detail please see the text below the infographic and the ‘find out more’ page.

Environment infographic

As shown in the Population & Migration theme, the population of England represents 84% of the UK’s total population, followed by Scotland with 8%, Wales with 5% and Northern Ireland with 3%. This provides a reference point for some of the distributions presented below.

Environment and Energy

In 2012, total income from farming in the UK stood at £4,810 million1. England generated the largest proportion of the UK’s total income at 81% (a total income of £3,908 million), followed by Scotland with 13% (£635 million), and Wales and Northern Ireland both with 3% (£124 and £143 million respectively). Figures for Wales are not National Statistics.

In 2012, the country which administered vessels attributing to the largest value of fish landings was Scotland with 60% of the total value from UK vessels (equivalent to £465.8 million). This was followed by England with 29% of total value (£222.6 million), Northern Ireland with 7% (£56.1 million) and Wales with 2% (£18.7 million). The remaining portion of total value from UK vessels can be attributed to vessels administered from the Islands (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man).

The latest comparable waste recycling data is for 2011/12, when the household recycling rate was highest in Wales (49%), followed by England (43%) and Northern Ireland (40%). In Scotland, the rate is available for the 2011 and 2012 years separately; 40% and 41% respectively. Figures for Scotland are not National Statistics.

In 2011, England had the highest share of UK total net greenhouse gas emissions (77%), followed by Scotland with 9%, Wales with 8%, Northern Ireland with 4% and the remaining going unallocated (for example, emissions from offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities). Figures are not National Statistics.

Across all of the constituent countries and all pollutants, per capita air emissions have fallen between 1990 and 2011, the most notable decrease being for lead and sulphur dioxide. In 2011 in Wales, per capita emissions are highest for 4 out of the 7 the pollutant types, while in England they are lower than the UK average for all pollutants. In Northern Ireland, ammonia emissions per capita are over three times the UK average in 2011 and for Scotland NMVOC emissions2 per capita are nearly two times the UK average in 2011. Figures are not National Statistics.

In 2012, England accounted for the largest proportion of total UK electricity generation at 77%, Scotland's share was 14%, Wales's share was 7% and Northern Ireland's share was 2%. For all constituent countries the fuel type that made up the majority of that country's generation was gas, with the exception of Scotland where it was nuclear. Figures are not National Statistics.

In 2013, 52.8TWh3 of energy was generated from renewable sources in the UK. The highest percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK was from sites in England with 60%, followed by sites in Scotland which generated 32%, sites in Wales generated 5% and sites in Northern Ireland generated 3%. In all constituent countries, wind energy made up the biggest proportion of their renewable energy generation.

In 2011, final consumption of energy products in Great Britain was 125,042 ktoe4. England accounted for 83% of consumption in Great Britain, Scotland accounted for 10% and Wales accounted for 7%. The average final energy consumption per thousand of population for Great Britain in 2011 was 2.0 ktoe. Wales had the highest level of average consumption, with 2.6 ktoe, followed by Scotland where average consumption was 2.4 ktoe. These were both higher than the figure for each of the regions in England. Data for Northern Ireland are not comparable (see data catalogue for more information).

From 2007 to 2013, the average electricity bills for domestic consumers paying by direct debit saw an increase, in real terms, by 27% in Northern Ireland, 22% in England and Wales, and 20% in Scotland. A similar trend was seen with standard credit and prepayment bills for electricity. The average real increase in direct debit gas bills was 47% in England and Wales, and 49% in Scotland. Data are not available for England and Wales separately, or for gas bills in Northern Ireland.

In 2012, coal production decreased to an all-time low of 17 million tonnes. England produced 55% of this total, followed by 29% produced by Scotland, 15% by Wales and none by Northern Ireland.

In 2013, 80% of bathing sites met the EU guideline standards ‘pass' rate. Welsh beaches had the highest pass rate (89%), followed by Northern Ireland (87%), England (82%) and Scotland (57%). Figures are not National Statistics.

Biodiversity is a broad area for which there are a range of indicators for the UK, some of which are also available at country level. For example, by the end of June 2013 over 6.7 million hectares of land and freshwater have been designated under national and international legislation, representing 28% of the land area of the UK. This is broken down into 3.4 million hectares in England (26% of land and freshwater), 2.3 million hectares in Scotland (30%), 0.6 million hectares in Wales (29%) and 0.4 million hectares in Northern Ireland (28%). Some biodiversity figures are not National Statistics.


In 2013, the simple average house price (mean) for all dwellings in the UK was £251,000. The country with the highest simple average house price was England5 (£261,000), followed by Scotland (£181,000), Wales, (£169,000) and Northern Ireland (£136,000). Figures are not National Statistics.

In 2012-13, there were 107,820 new homes built in England, 14,080 in Scotland, 8,030 in Northern Ireland and 5,460 in Wales.

In the UK in 2012, renting households spent an average of £86 per week on net rent6. The average weekly spend was highest in England (£92), followed by Wales (£67), Scotland (£51), and Northern Ireland (£41).

In the UK in 2012, mortgage holding households spent an average of £139 on mortgage payments. The average weekly outlay was highest in England (£144), followed by Northern Ireland (£124), Scotland (£116) and Wales (£101).

Travel and Transport

In every constituent country of the UK, the largest proportion of all trips taken per person was by car or van (as a driver or passenger). 

In 2011/12, there were 1.2 billion within country rail journeys made in the UK (excluding journeys across borders). By country, 91% of these within country journeys were made in England, 6% in Scotland, 2% in Wales and 1% in Northern Ireland.

In 2011/12 (combining 2011 and 2012 National Travel Survey results) in England, Wales and Scotland, the most commonly used mode of transport for travelling to school amongst 5-16 year olds was by foot (42%, 47% and 47% for the countries respectively) followed by car or van (35%, 31% and 26% respectively), bus (19%, 20% and 21% respectively) and the remaining travelled by other modes of transport (bicycle, surface rail or other forms). Data for Northern Ireland are not published but is available on request.

In 2013, there were 28.6 million visits (a stay of at least one night) by overseas visitors to England, 16.8 million of which were to London. There were 2.4 million visits to Scotland, 0.9 million to Wales and 0.9 million to Northern Ireland.

In 2011, 9.1% of all employment in the UK was in tourism industries. Scotland and Wales both have a higher than average proportion of its employment in tourism industries (9.8% and 9.6% respectively). Northern Ireland’s figure was the lowest (6.9%) compared to the countries and English regions. The country or English region with the highest proportion was London (10.4%).

In 2012, there were 35 million licensed vehicles in the UK. In 2012, the proportion of total UK licensed vehicles broadly matched the breakdown of the UK population of license holding age (17 and over) across the four nations of the UK. In England there were 29.3 million licensed vehicles (84%), 2.7 million in Scotland (8%), 1.8 million in Wales (5%) and 1.1 million in Northern Ireland (3%).

In 2012, the number of road deaths per million population in the UK was 28. By country, the lowest number of road deaths per million population was in Northern Ireland (26), followed by England (28), Wales (30) and Scotland (32).

In 2010, the country that had the largest quantity of goods lifted7 by road was England (1,283 million tonnes), followed by Scotland (131 million tonnes), Wales (73 million tonnes) and Northern Ireland (2 million tonnes).

In the UK, ship freight traffic fell by 4% to 500.9 million tonnes between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, there were 110 active commercial ports in the UK, with seven of the top 10 busiest ports (by tonnage) being in England, with one in each of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


1. Figures are all preliminary estimates. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland published revised estimates in early 2014 but these are not currently comparable with the UK and England figures; therefore preliminary estimates have been used in all cases.

2. Non-methane volatile organic compounds.

3. Terawatt-hour.

4. Kilotonne of oil equivalent.

5. The equivalent figures for London and the South East are £428,000 and £305,000. All other regions are below the average for England.

6. Net rent excludes housing benefit, rebates and allowances received.

7. The quantity derived by adding together the weight of all the loads carried.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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