DEFRA survey. 25% of respondents placed the environment alongside
health, education and crime as one of the most important issues
facing the government.
Most people were very worried about the disposal of hazardous waste,
the effects of livestock rearing methods, pollution of rivers and
bathing water and traffic exhaust fumes.
Over half of the respondents claimed they regularly recycled paper
and two fifths recycled glass.
Overall, five out of six people regarded their quality of life as
'fairly' or 'very good', and most people were optimistic about the
Commenting on the survey, environment minister Michael Meacher said:
'This survey shows that people really are concerned about their
environment and the impact which today's lifestyles are having on it.
They are becoming more aware of the big issues like climate change,
and beginning to see it as important for both themselves and for the
government to address.
'But it is clear that we have not yet got some vital messages across.
Only two fifths of the people in this survey were trying to regularly
use their cars less or cut down on gas or electricity.
'It is not sufficient for us all to realise that the environment is a
top priority issue if we are not going to do our bit to tackle the
problems. I'm very pleased to see that many people are becoming more
aware of headline concerns like climate change and sustainable
1. Full results of the survey are available in the report: 'Survey of
public attitudes to quality of life and to the environment - 2001'.
This publication, priced£11, is available from Defra Publications
Tel: 08459 556000 and on the DEFRA website. Selected results have
been published earlier in two DEFRA publications: 'The Environment in
Your Pocket' (2001) and 'Achieving a better quality of life: Review of
progress towards sustainable development' (March 2002).
2. The 'Survey of public attitudes towards the environment and quality
of life - 2001' is the fifth in the series. The survey was conducted
amongst adults aged 18 and over in England, and follows similar
surveys conducted in England and Wales in 1986, 1989, 1993, and
1996/7. It was designed to be broadly consistent with these earlier
surveys to allow comparisons to be made. However, changes were made
to the survey content, mostly by the addition of new questions. In
particular, questions on quality of life issues were introduced. The
sample size was also increased to allow some analysis of results at
regional level. Over 3,700 people were interviewed (a survey response
rate of 68.4 per cent), across the nine English government office
Regions, compared with 1,780 in the 1996/7 survey, covering both
England and Wales.
3. The survey was commissioned by DEFRA's environment protection
statistics and information management division. The office for
national statistics undertook the fieldwork on behalf of the
department between January and April 2001.
4. The contents of the report are National Statistics. National
statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the
National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality
assurance reviews to ensure they meet customer needs.