Newcastle has been crowned the UK’s most sustainable city according to a new league table drawn up by development organisation Forum for the Future
The 2009 league table (attached) is based on criteria such as quality of life, future-proofing and environmental performance. Britain’s 20 largest cities were compared on the Forum’s ‘Sustainable Cities Index’ which has been tracking their progress in sustainability over the last three years.
Newcastle has steadily risen to the poll position this year, from eighth position two years ago
As the league table shows, Newcastle has steadily risen to the poll position this year, from eighth position two years ago. This achievement comes as a result of the city’s eco-ambitions, laid out in its Sustainable Community Strategy for 2008 to 2011. The strategy claims the city’s economic growth ‘will not have been achieved at the expense of the environment’. It goes on to say that ‘Newcastle in 2021 will be a sustainable city with excellent air quality, low waste levels, low carbon emissions and high recycling rates.’
Newcastle has knocked last years’s champions Bristol from the top slot and forced 2007 victors Brighton into third place despite coming below both in the listings for quality of life and future-proofing. Bristol let itself down with a poor performance in the environmental category where its high eco-footprint undermined its excellent recycling and transport efforts.
Brightonians, now polled third, have a similarly high eco-footprint per capita but have redeeming success in all other categories, notably education and the economy. The measurement of the ‘economy’ category came under scrutiny this year after a number of councils objected to one of the success indicators being the number of ‘green’ businesses listed on yell.com.
‘Cities with an industrial heritage face genuine challenges’
Comparisons have been drawn between Newcastle and other industrialised cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool; they have all made some improvement on last year’s results but are still wallowing near the bottom of the list.
Peter Madden, chief executive of the Forum, said: ‘Cities with an industrial heritage face genuine challenges, but Newcastle’s success shows that it is possible to overcome the legacy of the past and perform well on many measures of sustainability. We hope it will inspire other cities to redouble their efforts.’
Unusually Cardiff and Plymouth, which both demonstrated improvements between 2007 and 2008, have significantly dropped on the listings - a result critics could blame on complacency or increased competition.
Interestingly, Hull may be deemed to have reached a sustainability plateau - they remain bottom.