COP26: The Surrey areas named among England’s least eco-friendly places

The most and least environmentally areas of England have been named – including the places in Surrey which are doing their bit.

With this week’s crucial COP26 climate conference underway, SurreyLive analysed seven environmental indicators to rank local authorities across the country on their commitment to going green.

Two Surrey areas were ranked in the top 100 greenest parts of England in our analysis.

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However, other parts of the county did not do as well, with some among the worst in England for environmental impact.

In fact, seven areas of Surrey ranked at 206th or lower on the list of 314 English areas.

BELOW: Enter your postcode to see how green your area is

The figures we scrutinised included data on how often people walk or cycle, domestic carbon emissions per person and how much your local council spends on the environment.

Surrey’s environmental credentials

Elmbridge was Surrey’s worst performer – emerging as the 284th greenest out of 314 local authority areas in England once all the different indicators had been taken into account.

This was mostly down to one of the highest levels of domestic carbon emissions in the country – each person living there was responsible for 1.81 tonnes of CO2, compared to an average of 1.42 nationally.

The area generates a low amount of renewable energy, adding just 10,102 megawatt hours of power to the national grid in 2019.

Woking was the highest-ranked in Surrey at 89 overall on the list.

With 43.7% of homes rated as energy-efficient, it is above the national average of 39.1%.

It has a high percentage of household waste which is reused, recycled or composted – 58.6%, compared to the English average of 41.6%.

Other local authorities in the county had a wide spread of ratings.

Surrey Heath came in at number 95 and Guildford ranked 104. However, Waverley (250), Mole Valley (265) and Tandridge (278) were all in the bottom quarter nationally.

BELOW: How Surrey’s areas ranked

Overall ranking Local authority

Domestic CO2 emissions per capita, 2019-20 (tonnes)

% efficient homes

% adults who walk or cycle 5 times a week, 2019-20

Renewable energy generation (MWh), 2019

% household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting, 2019-20

Access to green space, 2020 (out of 5)

Local authority budget per capita on the environment, 2021-22

89

Woking

1.50

43.68%

36.19%

5,191

58.6%

3.31

£0.27

95

Surrey Heath

1.65

39.59%

37.61%

6,150

63.8%

4.42

£0.26

104

Guildford

1.48

37.19%

39.32%

12,298

52.5%

4.03

£0.27

149

Runnymede

1.42

42.32%

35.87%

24,744

43.3%

3.97

£0.12

206

Reigate and Banstead

1.59

46.25%

35.25%

38,126

45.5%

3.98

£0.33

214

Epsom and Ewell

1.52

38.63%

33.60%

1,795

46.0%

3.97

£0.34

242

Spelthorne

1.42

37.72%

29.22%

3,469

42.6%

3.23

£0.01

250

Waverley

1.76

36.35%

38.78%

21,880

50.6%

4.60

£0.32

265

Mole Valley

1.80

34.56%

34.14%

4,857

56.7%

4.40

£0.32

278

Tandridge

1.74

38.68%

37.33%

14,679

43.0%

4.43

£0.35

284

Elmbridge

1.81

40.28%

36.41%

10,102

50.1%

4.05

£0.38

What about the rest of England’s eco scores?

Bolsover in Derbyshire was the least eco-friendly place in England according to the ratings, with poor scores across the board – including the second-highest domestic carbon emissions per person.

Eden in Cumbria emerged as the second least green place in the country followed by Pendle, Lancashire in third.

At the other end of the scale, Tower Hamlets in London was rated the most environmentally friendly area in the country.

It scored highly for local authority spending, efficient homes and low domestic emissions.

Selby in North Yorkshire – England’s renewable energy capital – was the second greenest, with Hackney coming in third place.

The figures used in the analysis were taken from government sources, including the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

The City of London was excluded from the rankings due to its low population, while carbon emissions from industry, travel, business and agriculture were not counted towards an area’s total to reduce the impact of major roads and factories on the rankings.

Living in an eco-friendly area comes with plenty of benefits for residents – like cleaner air, healthier lifestyles and even potentially lower utility bills.

And while we won’t save the planet just by popping a few tins in the recycling, the impact of local actions does add up.

Alasdair Roxburgh, director of communities at Friends of the Earth, said: “When you have something as big as a climate breakdown, it can be difficult for people to see how they can make a difference.

“But the value of local campaigning shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Changing hearts and minds starts in our communities, and requires people power, plenty of it.

“Anyone can join the climate movement no matter where they live.

“Whether demanding our councils adopt a Climate Action Plan, or joining Friends of the Earth’s network of local and Climate Action Groups, real, tangible wins for climate can be achieved when we join others like us who are striving for a better future.”

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The greenest and least green areas in England

Greenest:

  1. Tower Hamlets, London
  2. Selby, North Yorkshire
  3. Hackney, London
  4. Southwark, London
  5. Camden, London

Least green:

  • 310 – Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
  • 311 – Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire
  • 312 – Pendle, Lancashire
  • 313 – Eden, Cumbria
  • 314 – Bolsover, Derbyshire

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