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Durham Named the UK’s Greenest City


Durham has been lauded as the UK’s greenest city, while Perth had the dishonour of being named the least environmentally friendly.

Solar technology specialists the Solar Centre assessed 59 UK cities on ten criteria, including carbon emissions, air quality, green spaces and waste management.

Durham won the top prize after reducing its carbon emissions by nearly half (47%) between 2009 and 2019. It also has the cleanest air of any city and abundant green spaces and parks.

Durham declared a climate emergency in February 2019 and has committed to reducing its emissions by 80% by 2030 and to hit net-zero emissions across the county by 2050.

Councillor John Clare, Durham County Council’s climate change champion, said, “We are pleased to receive this recognition for our work to combat climate change, which is a testimony to the amazing work of the council’s environment and low carbon teams. Creating a clean and green county is at the core of the council’s Climate Action Plan and we will continue to build on these promising figures.

“We are constantly implementing ways to tackle climate change from innovative angles. This includes helping businesses and residents become more energy efficient, and integrating clean technology in our county’s infrastructure.”

Swansea was named the second-greenest city and Newcastle on Tyne came in third. The top ten was rounded out by Salford, Worcester, Coventry, Gloucester, Cambridge, St Albans and Exeter.

London was ranked 53rd, while Bradford and Perth were ranked last.

Perth and Kinross Council disputed the Solar Centre’s methodology and motives. A spokesperson for the council said: “We take climate change extremely seriously but believe the research used by a commercial solar lights company to produce these rankings is flawed and misleading.

“The data on air quality and green spaces comes from the impressions of a handful of people submitted to a website several years ago rather than any scientific measurement.” 

Satisfaction with the area’s parks and green spaces stands at 89.1%, the second-highest among Scotland’s 32 local authorities, and satisfaction with street cleanliness is the third highest in Scotland, the spokesperson said.

The local authority has 80 electric vehicle charging points and has received £6 million from charity SUSTRANS to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in Perth.

“Air quality monitoring in Perth and Kinross shows pollutant levels are reducing and our recycling rates are high,” the spokesperson added.

The council’s climate change Action Plan includes a study to see if a Low Emissions Zone in Perth would reduce emissions and improve quality still further.

The Solar Centre defended the study, which it said drew on government data.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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