Norwich named as one of country's most climate-friendly cities
PUBLISHED: 06:53 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 23 October 2019
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Norwich is one of the most climate-friendly areas to live in the country, according to fresh research.
A league table of the greenest local authority areas in England and Wales has ranked Norwich in fourth place.
With an overall score of 80pc, the city shares its position with 23 other councils including Bristol, Exeter and Dorset.
The research by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth analysed how each council area performed on key climate issues including transport, waste, housing and renewable energy.
Norwich was ranked the best in the county for use of green transport, with a quarter of the population commuting by walking, while 10pc used public transport and 9pc cycled.
But the campaign group said improvements could be made as figures show the city recycled 38pc of waste and produced seven megawatts (MW) of renewable power - the lowest in Norfolk.
The city was overtaken by Ipswich which had an overall score of 84pc and Wiltshire which topped the list at 92pc.
Councillor Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for Norwich City Council's safe and sustainable city environment, said: "We're very proud to have been recognised as a high-performing council in this regard as it's a real priority for us.
"However well we are currently performing, we always want to do more - which is why we've set up a climate emergency and environment executive panel to keep widening our focus and improving our performance on climate change.
"We hope to being topping lists of this nature in the near future."
According to the research, 40pc of greenhouse gas emissions in Norwich came from the industrial and commercial industry, while 35pc came from housing and 25pc from transport.
Figures shows around 45pc of homes in the city were well insulated while 12pc of households lived in fuel poverty.
Friends of the Earth said the insulation figures represented "a shocking waste of energy, high greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessarily high energy bills."
The campaign group found around 8pc of the Norwich area is woodland - which it described as important for storing greenhouse gas emissions - and suggested the city should aim for 20pc tree cover.
Norwich Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn said: "We cannot afford to let Norwich rest on its laurels.
"Norwich is currently aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, which is twenty years behind many other councils, including North Norfolk, and twenty years too late.
"Friends of the Earth also make a key recommendation that Norwich needs to stop supporting new roads and airport expansion."
Elsewhere, some 17pc of people in South Norfolk, Breckland and Broadland used greener modes of transport as opposed to a car.
South Norfolk Council cabinet member Keith Kiddie said: "Our recycling rates are increasing as we add more materials that can be put in your green bins and we are supporting the use of electric vehicles by adding charging points to our car parks.
"The council has extended our conservation areas, supported the planting of new hedgerows across the district and we will soon be opening a new country park in Costessey."
The research comes after Breckland, North Norfolk and East Suffolk councils declared a climate emergency following demands to take action by pressure group Extinction Rebellion.
North Norfolk councillor Nigel Lloyd said: "We are currently planning an ambitious programme of projects and initiatives over the next four years to further reduce the carbon footprint of our work in the delivery of our services to the public."
Councillor James Mallinder, East Suffolk's cabinet member for the environment, added: "Whilst we are working to reduce our own carbon emissions and doing what we can within our own organisation, we are also engaging with our communities to help people make positive changes in their own homes, such as improving their energy efficiency, reducing food waste and increasing recycling."
North Norfolk produced the most renewable energy at 185 MW compared to just seven megawatts in Norwich.
Waveney scored 76pc for overall performance, with 21pc of people using public transport, cycling and walking and 47pc recycling waste.
Great Yarmouth had the lowest overall score at 56pc with the least percentage of the population recycling at 30pc.
Yarmouth councillor Penny Carpenter, chairman of the environment committee, said: "We continue to work closely with councils across Norfolk, through the Norfolk Waste Partnership, to take a county-wide approach to encouraging recycling, while recognising that Great Yarmouth's recycling rate, if you exclude garden waste, is actually in line with other Norfolk areas."