Brighton and Hove is Britain’s third most sustainable city for the second year in a row, according to a national league table.
And it is the only city in the country to have been in the top three every year since the table was first published.
The rankings show Brighton coming in behind Newcastle and Leicester.
Last year Newcastle and Bristol were the only two cities to outperform the Brighton coastal conurbation.
Two years ago Brighton came second, behind Bristol, and three years ago, when the rankings were first published, Brighton topped the table.
The table – the Sustainable Cities Index – is produced by the environmental charity Forum for the Future to assess Britain’s 20 biggest cities.
They are assessed according to three broad categories – environmental performance, quality of life and future-proofing.
Future-proofing covers how well issues such as climate change, recycling and biodiversity are addressed
Brighton, according to the forum, is strong on future-proofing and quality of life but has a high environmental impact.
It said: “Brighton is the only city to win a top three place every year since 2007.
“It scores well for quality of life and future-proofing, with a healthy, highly skilled population and a vibrant economy, but it falls down on environmental performance.
“Brighton has the worst ecological footprint of any city.
“Despite improvements in the energy efficiency of its housing, its high-consumption lifestyle makes a disproportionate demand on the global environment.”
Part of the issue with Brighton’s ecological footprint may be down to its thriving café culture and having Gatwick airport on the doorstep.
The report said: “Brighton consistently performs worst on this measure (its ecological footprint) as its residents spend more on food and drink, including restaurants and takeaways, and take more flights and international holidays than other cities.”
Brighton and Hove scored top on the proportion of people with qualifications, with 75.5 per cent having NVQ2 or equivalent level qualifications.
And the city came second for business start-ups, behind London.
In its report about the latest index, the forum said: “All these cities have set themselves ambitious targets based on long-term planning, are well-governed, and have relatively environmentally aware and active citizens.
“Brighton, Bristol and London all have Green Party councillors and Brighton has elected the UK’s first Green Party MP.”
The forum said of its report: “It provides a snapshot of sustainability in each city, with the aim of encouraging healthy competition, stimulating discussion and suggesting new ways of thinking about cities.”
It added: “There is no simple answer to why some cities are doing better on sustainability than others.
“Performance does not easily correlate to GDP per head, local authority spending, population density, or which political parties hold sway.
“Rather, the strong performers tend to share a mixture of strategic long-term ambitions and high aspirations, coupled with good governance and pressure from environmentally aware populations.”
Improving our prospects
Councillor Mary Mears, the Conservative leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “This doesn’t happen by accident.
“From the council’s point of view, the good scores reflect the work of various departments such as environment, sustainability and economic development – all aimed at improving our prospects for the future.
“It is particularly pleasing to see our economy continuing to do well.
“Strong local enterprise, together with our highly skilled workforce, will make us ideally placed to take advantage of new technologies to create a low-carbon economy.”
The council said that Brighton and Hove was one of the first cities to embrace the 10:10 campaign to reduce its overall carbon footprint.
The council is running a £6 million energy efficiency grant scheme over three years to help householders cut costs and emissions.
This autumn the city hosted an “eco open houses” weekend when residents were able to share their environmentally friendly homes with others.
Brighton and Hove will also be the nearest British city to an offshore wind farm when the “Rampion” wind farm is built.
The council is working to capitalise on its economic benefits for the city.
It also flagged up its “Be Local, Buy Local” campaign which encourages residents to support local shops, jobs and the environment.
Councillor Mears added: “We are proud of what the city has achieved and we want to do even better.
“We will be looking at how we can significantly reduce our effect on the environment, from reducing waste and increasing recycling to improving wildlife habitats and biodiversity.”
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