New index identifies Leeds as greenest city and Glasgow Prestwick as greenest airport

DriveElectric have analysed air quality and the prevalence of low-emissions transport across towns and cities in the UK, as well as individual London boroughs, to produce a Travel Pollution Index which reveals the most and least green areas in the UK

As well as considering the use of low-emissions cars, their research also examined the quantity of clean buses in an area and went on to analyse each UK airport’s carbon neutral status, CO2 emissions and passenger numbers.

The air pollution index of each area was sourced from IQAir, the percentage of cars with low emissions in each town and city was sourced from the Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, as were the percentage of low emission buses and coaches.

Leeds won out as the greenest city in the UK by dint of an impressive number of low emission cars on the streets, while Belfast’s second place owes a lot to the number of electric and plug-in hybrid coaches and buses in the city.

City/ town AQI     low emissions cars  low emission buses and coaches 
1 Leeds 12    18.7% 3.0%
2 Belfast 23    7.5% 6.3%
3 Edinburgh 16    7.6% 1.9%
4 Bradford 14    7.5% 0.8%
5 Cambridge 18    8.6% 0.5%
6 Birmingham 18    6.4% 1.9%
7 Oxford 24    8.1% 1.1%
8 Nottingham 32    6.7% 23.9%
9 Glasgow 23    5.4% 11.5%
10 Reading 29    6.3% 14.8%


Westminster, where 29.2% of licensed cars and almost half (49.1%) of buses and coaches are either plug-in hybrids or electric, topped the list of London boroughs, with Camden and Brent taking second and third places.

The methodology for scoring the airports factored in the flight emissions of passengers (million tonnes of CO2) for each airport,  each airport’s carbon-neutral status (sourced from the Airport Carbon Accreditation), and each airport’s sustainability report where unavailable. DreiveElectric also sourced the number of passengers that used each airport in using the UK Civil Aviation Authority Annual Airport Data and calculated the number of passengers per 1,000 metres of the runway at each airport.

The airports were then ranked by being given a normalised score out of 10 for each factor before calculating an average score across all factors.

Top was Glasgow Prestwick ( 7.20/10) which sees around 6.4 million fewer passengers than Glasgow Airport. The airport has committed to carbon neutrality and is also one of the quietest airports in the UK, welcoming just 91,027 passengers for every 1,000n of runway last year.

Second was Southampton (6.20/10) and third Bristol (6.10/10)

London Luton Airport is the least green in the UK, scoring just 0.70 out of 10. The airport has not yet achieved carbon neutrality and was responsible for 1.02 million tonnes of CO2 in passenger flight emissions. It is also one of the busiest airports, with almost 6.2 million passengers for every 1,000 runway metres.

Edinburgh (1/10) and  Birmingham( 1.2/10) made up the bottom three.


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