The greenest places to live in the UK

Posted 06/02/2020 by E.ON

You'd expect rural idylls to be the UK's greenest places to live but a study recently carried out by commercial waste and recycling service, First Mile, has revealed that the big cities are some of the most planet-friendly places to live in the UK 

They judged them on green criteria such as:

• air quality
• pollution levels
• recycling efficiency
• green space available
• single-use plastic consumption levels
• fast-fashion consumption levels

So what did their investigations reveal?

The UK's greenest cities

Edinburgh is the UK's most planet-friendly city scoring the best against all the criteria. The second and third spots were scooped by Scottish cities too, with Aberdeen coming in second and Glasgow in third place.

UK's Top 10 Green Cities  
1. Edinburgh
2. Aberdeen
3. Glasgow
4. York
5. Oxford
6. Bristol
7. Newcastle
8. Leeds
9. Sheffield
10. Birmingham


York had the best recycling schemes while Aberdeen had the best air quality for a large city. Despite having the most electric vehicle charging points, London didn't make the top spots. But the study did also compare London boroughs against the same criteria.

The study comes as E.ON has revealed that 80% of people questioned in a recent survey1 feel they have no choice but to put up with living in an area with air pollution, with just over two thirds (67%) of people questioned admitting that air pollution has become more of a concern for them over the past year. 

Interestingly almost 80% of people living in Scotland questioned feel they have to put up with living in an area with poor air pollution so it may come as a surprise to those questioned that Scottish cities lead the list of the UK’s greenest cities in the study. 

London's greenest boroughs

There wasn't enough data available on each of the 33 boroughs included in the study for it to be as comprehensive as the greenest city one. So the London boroughs were judged on just four of the criteria:

• air quality
• recycling efficiency
• single-use plastic consumption levels
• fast-fashion consumption levels

The results showed that the south is slightly greener than the north with 6 of the top 10 spots going to boroughs south of the river. 

Top 10 green London boroughs 
1. Greenwich
2. Camden
3. Bexley
4. Southwark
5. Havering
6. Hackney
7. Croydon
8. Barking and Dagenham
9. Richmond-upon-Thames
10. Sutton

Bexley scored highest for recycling while the best air quality can be found in Havering and Barking and Dagenham, as well as two boroughs that didn't make the top 10 overall, Redbridge and Islington.

Redbridge is also the borough with lowest consumption levels of single-use plastic so it must have just missed a place on the list. Home to a multitude of vintage markets and shops, Camden has the lowest disposable fashion consumption levels.

UK's greenest cities

Another study looks specifically at the amount of green space a city has for residents and visitors to enjoy and Edinburgh won first prize for this green credential too, with almost half of the city given over to nature. This study used satellite images to see what percentage of green space the UK's city have.

Top 10 UK cities for green space
1. Edinburgh - 49.2%
2. Glasgow - 32%
3. Bristol - 29%
4. Birmingham - 24.6%
5. Greater London - 23%
6. Sheffield - 22.1%
7. Leeds - 21.7%
8. Manchester 20.4%
9. Bradford - 18.4%
10. Liverpool - 16.4%


So if you're looking for clean, green sustainable city to live in it looks like heading north is the answer with Scotland and cities in the north of England dominating our lists.

And to demonstrate E.ON’s commitment to ensure the UK’s cities remain as green as possible, E.ON now offers electricity backed by 100% renewable sources2 to 3.4 million homes as standard and to eligible small business customers3.

1. Research conducted by Cenuswide with 2,322 people across the UK in August 2019.
2. Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to homes and businesses comes from the National Grid.
3. Eligible business customers include SMEs who are fed by a non-half hourly meter agreeing a Fixed Business Plan directly with E.ON.

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