2004 volume 36(5) pages 803 – 822

Cite as:
Wheeler B W, 2004, "Health-related environmental indices and environmental equity in England and Wales" Environment and Planning A 36(5) 803 – 822

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Health-related environmental indices and environmental equity in England and Wales

Benedict W Wheeler

Received 28 March 2003; in revised form 11 August 2003

Abstract. This study developed small-area health-related environmental indices for England and Wales in the context of an investigation into socioeconomic inequity in the distribution of environmental risk. Selection of environmental hazards, relevant datasets, and their attribution to standard small-area geography using a geographic information system are described. Four indices for 1991 Census wards are proposed, relating to ambient air quality, atmospheric chemical releases from large-scale industrial processes, landfills, and sites registered under Control of Major Accident Hazard regulations. Ecological measures of association between these indices and the Carstairs material deprivation index and its components are presented in the context of variations by urban - rural status. Based on these analyses, the study generally supports previous findings of environmental inequity in England and Wales, but highlights that associations are dependent on the environmental and deprivation measures under consideration, and urban - rural context. It is proposed that environmental indices such as those described here should be included in considerations of area deprivation, could assist with equitable environmental decisionmaking and planning, and that measures of environmental inequity could be considered as indicators of progress towards sustainable development.

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