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It might come as a surprise to learn that carbon emissions in Lochaber are far greater than the national average, but that is the case according to data presented at the latest talk given by the Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG).
Susan Carstairs, board member and former manager of LEG, gathered masses of data, worked out a lot of calculations and made some educated estimations to build a comprehensive picture of emissions in Lochaber.
‘I think it’s fascinating and it’s important to understand what’s happening at a local level,’ she said.
This was the third talk hosted by LEG, and board member Marian Austin said this was the best attended of these talks to date.
The data showed that Lochaber emissions work out at 17.5 tonnes per person per year, which is well above the UK average of nine tonnes per person per year. This figure is incorporating industrial emissions as well as personal ones.
Lochaber homes and businesses generate 100,000 tonnes of carbon a year, not including emissions coming from gas use. Emissions from electricity usage are above average, as is the total from homes and businesses.
Transport is a major source of emissions, which is again above average, with a total of 338,000 tonnes being produced annually. This includes transportation of foods (151,426 tonnes annually), largely from fish farms as well as transporting product from the aluminium smelter and Glensanda Quarry.
Some 5,3738 tonnes of carbon is produced from agriculture annually, 67 per cent of which is due to methane from animals, again a higher figure than the UK average.
Forestry, another major land use in the area, and the removal of trees for wood causes emissions of 483,483t annually.
Damage to peatbogs – for example, for building projects on Blar Mor – is another source of carbon emission in the area.
Ms Carstairs said she would like to get a group together, with householders as well as businesses, to try to come up with solutions to reduce the high emission levels in Lochaber.
She said: ‘I would love to see us take this on personally and in the work that we do. The goal is to find ways to do something about this and make it part of what we do.’
She added that more research is needed to look at the impact of tourism on emissions through traffic.