Norwich rated Britain's most eco-friendly place to live

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The Independent Online

Delia Smith runs the local football club. It provided a home to Steve Coogan's witless disc jockey Alan Partridge and boasts a Romanesque medieval cathedral. Now Norwich has another claim to fame. It is apparently the greenest place in Britain.

The county capital of Norfolk has been acclaimed the most environmentally friendly place to live in England and Wales. By contrast, the people of London are reckoned to worry little over green matters, according to new research.

A local information website set out to find the country's greenest town by analysing the number of businesses good for the environment such as those associated with recycling, the prevention of pollution and conservation of resources.

Districts won points for the number of companies involved in such activities as double glazing, which reduces the effects of noise pollution and improves energy efficiency, insulation, which also saves energy, and recycling.

Points were also awarded for organic food firms that avoid artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers; and farm shops, which sell local produce, thus reducing pollution.

Other points came from charity shops, which recycle goods and cut down on energy resources used in making new products.

Each town was awarded a score based on the number of firms in each category, calculated per head - the higher the ratio of green companies to population, the higher the score.

The results, compiled from Locallife's 325 local internet directories, show southerners, London aside, to be far greener than their northern counterparts. Not one of the top 20 greenest towns was located in the North.

Norwich was the overall winner, ranking within the top 10 in five out of the seven categories taken into account. Peterborough came a close second, scoring highly for its number of recycling centres - one for every 20,000 people. Tunbridge Wells, Wellingborough and Taunton completed the top five.

The research discovered towns which excelled in specific categories such as Grimsby (insulation installers); Hartlepool (recycling centres); Basildon (asbestos removal) and Tunbridge Wells (farm shops). By contrast, regions in the north scored poorly, with the North-east and the North-west scoring mid to bottom in every category. Trafford, Kingston upon Hull and Whitehaven and Workington all fell in the bottom 10 green towns.

The three least green areas were the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Renfrewshire, and Trafford. Southwark and Greenwich were also in the bottom 10.

The east of England was found to be the greenest region. By contrast, London had the lowest ratio of environmentally friendly services. Not only did the city come last in nearly every category, but no fewer than six London boroughs were in the bottom 10 towns.

Despite an abundance of pollution in the capital, said Londoners appeared to be doing very little to counteract its effects.

Tony Martin, the chairman, said: "Looking at the information taken from our database, it is very interesting that there is such an uneven distribution of green services across the UK.

"The east of England seems to be the best region in terms of addressing environmental issues, scoring highly in most of the categories. Our information would imply that regions surrounding London also seem to be quite environmentally aware, while the capital itself and northern regions are lagging behind.

He added: "According to our figures, very few areas of the UK are addressing the broad spectrum of environmental issues."

The best and the worst

* UK's greenest towns:

1 Norwich

2 Peterborough

3 Tunbridge Wells

4 Wellingborough

5 Taunton

* UK's least green towns:

1 Barking and Dagenham

2 Renfrewshire

3 Trafford

4 Kingston upon Hull

5 Hackney