SCOTTISH households produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the UK average, government research has suggested.

The official figures for carbon dioxide emissions have also identified the residents of several Scottish council areas as among the biggest polluters per head anywhere in Britain.

According to the data, annual domestic emissions in Scotland come to 2.9 tonnes for every person. The figure records the carbon produced by private houses and transport.

The UK average is 2.7 tonnes; in Wales the figure is also 2.7 tonnes, and the average in Northern Ireland is 2.4 tonnes.

Several Scottish council areas record per capita domestic emissions significantly above the Scottish average.

Shetland tops the table, with 3.6 tonnes, followed by Orkney and Perth and Kinross, both on 3.4 tonnes. In all three cases, domestic emissions are thought to be mainly due to high car use.

The figures also show total production in each area, including industrial activity as well as household production.

Dividing total emissions by population, Falkirk and Shetland emerge as the worst polluters in Scotland.

Falkirk, which has a population of 145,000, has total emissions per head of 31.5 tonnes. Shetland produces 30.6 tonnes of for every one of its 22,000 people.

Both figures are far above the UK average of 9.3 tonnes per capita, but they reflect particularly carbon-intensive industrial activity in the two areas: in Falkirk, the Grangemouth petrochemicals complex, and in Shetland, the Sullom Voe oil terminal.

Even those polluters are not enough to propel either area into the UK's top five carbon producers: the City of London, which has a tiny population but a massive flow of daily commuters, produces 244.6 tonnes of for every resident.

Other blackspots all take in major industrial areas: North Lincolnshire, which emits 90.3 tonnes per person; Redcar and Cleveland, 60.0 tonnes; Wansbeck in Northumberland, 56.0 tonnes; Ellesmere Port on Merseyside, 51.9 tonnes.

The "experimental" carbon figures were compiled by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem president, said the figures showed the need to "reduce drastically Britain's carbon emissions".

And Stuart Hay, head of policy and research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the figures underlined the need for Scottish politicians, business leaders and householders alike to try to reduce emissions.

"The breakdown of carbon figures shows that emissions vary greatly across Scotland's local authorities and every area will have take action," he said.

"Cutting will be a particular challenge for rural areas in terms of sustainable transport, whilst action focused on energy hungry industrial areas will also be necessary."

Last night, a spokesman for the Scottish Executive rejected any suggestion that the figures showed that Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK on environmental action.

Higher per capita emissions are "primarily the result of lower temperatures in Scotland," the spokesman said. He added: "Since 1990, Scotland's emissions fell by around 14 per cent at the same time as our economy grew by around 29 per cent."