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Exeter, UK
Photograph: Alexey Fedorenko / Shutterstock

These are officially the greenest cities in the UK

Researchers found a ‘clear divide’ between the south and the north

Ella Doyle
Written by
Ella Doyle

There’s a whole lot of talk about pollution at the minute. But in the UK, how much you notice it day-to-day can vary from city to city. Now, a new study has just ranked every UK city (and London borough) according to how green they are.

Of the 68 places included in the study, Exeter is officially the greenest, with more trees per person than any other city in Europe. The study, carried out by a number of university researchers and published in PLOS One, evaluated urban centres with populations larger than 100,000. Each was ranked according to factors including the amount of tree cover, the amount of vegetation and the number of parks.

The Devon city was closely followed by Islington in London, Bristol and Bournemouth. The lowest ranked were Sheffield, Middlesbrough and Glasgow. The study also found that the cities with the lowest scores were found to have higher levels of poor health, crime and economic deprivation, and that there was a ‘clear divide’ between the south of England and the north. 

The research concluded that by 2050, nearly 70 percent of us are going to be living in towns and cities, and that we vitally need to ‘close the gap’ between Britain’s cities by then. In another recent (though perhaps less scientific) study, Cardiff was named one of the greenest cities in Europe, alongside Belfast. 

Here are the ten greenest cities in the UK, according to the PLOS One study:

  1. Exeter
  2. Islington
  3. Bristol
  4. Bournemouth
  5. Cambridge
  6. Chelsea
  7. Ealing
  8. Sutton Coldfield
  9. Richmond
  10. Oxford 

And the ten least green:

  1. Glasgow
  2. Leeds
  3. Liverpool
  4. Sheffield
  5. Middlesborough
  6. Basildon
  7. Manchester
  8. Cardiff
  9. Huddersfield
  10. Worthing

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