Home   Kent   News   Article

Friends of the Earth test reveals which areas in Kent are the most climate-friendly

A climate-friendly test has revealed which areas in Kent are the best - and worse - when it comes to their impact on the environment.

The analysis has been carried out by Friends of the Earth (FoE), which sourced data by local authority area on a range of issues relevant to climate change.

Protests have taken place across the country calling for action over climate change
Protests have taken place across the country calling for action over climate change

The score is compiled by looking at how much of the area is covered in woodland, the level of emissions coming from homes and how much waste is being produced.

The report has also compared how many journeys are carried out on public transport or by foot and how much renewable energy is available.

Recommendations on how to improve the score are also given.

The data comes in the wake of many councils, including Kent County Council, declaring a climate and ecological emergency. Many have also vowed to become carbon neutral in the next decade.

Craig Bennett, FoE chief executive, said: "All local authorities, even the best performing, need to ramp up what they are doing.

"We know we are facing a climate and ecological emergency that threatens our existence and the natural world.

Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth
Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth

"If we want to change things for the better, let's start at home.

"Doing things right now about climate change isn’t just good news for future generations and people most vulnerable to an erratic climate, it’s good for everyone.

"Creating cleaner and greener places to live means healthier, happier lives.

"It’s why local authorities need to take the lead by adopting ambitious local climate action plans, and who better to help them than communities."

According to FoE research, the best place in the UK is Wiltshire, in the south west, which scored 92% on the climate friendly test.

The worse areas are Pendle, Ribble Valley, both near Burnley and Spelthorne near Heathrow, which each scored 40%.

Here, we look at how well each district in Kent is currently doing - and what they can do to improve their score in the future.

A breakdown of how each area is performing
A breakdown of how each area is performing

Ashford

Local authority: Ashford Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 14% of Ashford is woodland

Transport: 24% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 46% of Ashford homes are well insulated

Waste: 57% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Ashford has 39 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 80%

Ashford scored 80% on the climate friendly test
Ashford scored 80% on the climate friendly test

Ashford is first on our list alphabetically and when it comes to the environment.

The town can only be matched by one other in Kent with a score of 80% - earning it a green stripe from FoE.

In addition, in a national league table it comes 14th out of all the local authorities in the UK.

The FoE report concludes: "The Ashford area’s performance on climate change is better than most compared to other local authority areas.

"Ashford particularly needs to do much better on increasing renewable energy."

Earlier this year, the council rejected a motion to declare a climate and ecological emergency, but the authority did set a target of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2030.

Canterbury

Local authority: Canterbury City Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 18% of Canterbury is woodland

Transport: 31% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 38% of Canterbury homes are well insulated

Waste: 44% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Canterbury has 134 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 64%

The city of Canterbury scored 64% (20934167)
The city of Canterbury scored 64% (20934167)

The Canterbury district is only performing 'average' when it comes to its impact on the current climate crisis, sitting somewhere in the middle on the national league table.

Based on the results of the test, it is suggested it should aim for 70% of journeys to be undertaken by public transport or foot by 2030 in a bid to decrease the number of vehicles on the roads.

In addition the report stresses that all homes in the city and surrounding areas should be 'well insulated' within the next decade.

The FoE report concludes: "The Canterbury area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Canterbury particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing waste recycling."

The council declared a climate change emergency in July this year and set a target to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

Dartford

Local authority: Dartford Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 11% of Dartford is woodland

Transport: 33% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 50% of Dartford homes are well insulated

Waste: 25% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Dartford has 12 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 68%

Dartford's performance is classed as average
Dartford's performance is classed as average

Although sitting slightly higher than Canterbury, Dartford's performance is still described as 'average'.

Its low performance on renewable energy isn't helping it - if the area matched the best of similar local council areas it would have 61 MW rather than 12.

The FoE report states: "The Dartford area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Dartford particularly needs to do much better on increasing renewable energy and increasing waste recycling."

The council is yet to announce a climate emergency.

Dover

Local authority: Dover District Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 7% of Dover is woodland

Transport: 23% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 34% of Dover homes are well insulated

Waste: 47% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Dover has 31 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 56%

Dover scores the worse in Kent
Dover scores the worse in Kent

Dover has the second worse score in Kent, granting it a 'poor' rating.

This also places it low on the national league table.

This could be mostly due to only 7% of the district, which also includes Deal, being covered in trees.

Trees play an important role in sucking the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon. They also provide a home for nature, clean up air pollution and reduce flood risk.

The FoE report concludes: "The Dover area’s performance on climate change is poor compared to other local authority areas.

"Dover particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing tree cover."

Dover council declared a climate emergency earlier this month.

Folkestone (Shepway)

Local authority: Folkestone and Hythe District Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 6% of Shepway is woodland

Transport: 25% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 35% of Shepway homes are well insulated

Waste: 45% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Shepway has 88 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 72%

The test on Friends of the Earth revealed Shepway scores 76%
The test on Friends of the Earth revealed Shepway scores 76%

Coastal Shepway, which covers Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh, doesn't trail far behind high scorer Ashford, but is still deemed average.

Only 6% of the area is covered in woodland while similar sized districts are recording 30%.

The FoE report concludes: "The Shepway area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Shepway particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, increasing tree cover, and increasing waste recycling."

The council declared a climate and ecological emergency in July, vowing to reduce its carbon emissions in the next decade.

In September hundreds of people joined a climate strike in Folkestone as part of global action highlighting the cost of climate change.

Gravesham

Local authority: Gravesham Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 14% of Gravesham is woodland

Transport: 28% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 36% of Gravesham homes are well insulated

Waste: 41% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Gravesham has 6 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 64%

Gravesham is only rated as average
Gravesham is only rated as average

The Gravesham area, which covers Gravesend, Northfleet and Meopham, scored the same as Canterbury despite having more woodland.

It has a particularly low score for renewable energy, and it it was compared to similar councils who are scoring better it would have 84 megawatts, instead of 6 megawatts.

The FoE report states: "The Gravesham area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Gravesham particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing renewable energy."

The council declared a climate emergency in June, giving it until 2030 to make its borough carbon neutral.

Maidstone

Local authority: Maidstone Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 12% of Maidstone is woodland

Transport: 25% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 44% of Maidstone homes are well insulated

Waste: 51% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Maidstone has 17 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 68%

Maidstone scores 68% on the climate friendly test
Maidstone scores 68% on the climate friendly test

Maidstone also records an average score, such as Gravesham and Folkestone.

With only 12% of the area covered in woodland, FoE suggest this is increased to 24% in a bid to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the air.

The FoE report concludes: "The Maidstone area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Maidstone particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, increasing renewable energy and increasing tree cover."

Maidstone council was the first to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency in Kent, after figures from FoE revealed Upper Stone Street generates the fifth highest level of pollution in the country outside London.

It proposed a target for carbon neutrality for 2050, a decision met with criticism.

Medway

Local authority: Medway Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 8% of Medway is woodland

Transport: 26% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 37% of Medway homes are well insulated

Waste: 43% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Medway has 30 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 64%

Medway rates as average
Medway rates as average

Another council, another average rating.

Medway sits only just in front of 'poor' Dover with its must-do-better score of 64%.

The report recommends the authority encourages more journeys are made by public transport or foot and should aim for 60% by 2030.

Currently across the districts of Chatham, Gillingham, Strood and Rochester only 15% of people commute by public transport, 1% cycle and 10% walk.

But fewer cars on the roads will mean less harmful gasses are released in the air.

FoE warns: "The Medway area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Medway particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation, and increasing renewable energy."

Medway Council announced a climate emergency in April, shortly after Maidstone.

Sevenoaks

Local authority: Sevenoaks District Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 20% of Sevenoaks is woodland

Transport: 33% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 32% of Sevenoaks homes are well insulated

Waste: 38% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Sevenoaks has 10 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 52%

Sevenoaks is the worse in the county
Sevenoaks is the worse in the county

Sevenoaks has the worse score in Kent, earning it a 'poor' rating from the FoE.

As only 32% of homes are well insulated, this represents a shocking waste of energy, high greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessarily high energy bills.

In addition, 8% of households in the area are in fuel poverty, which means they can’t afford to heat their homes properly. Poor insulation contributes to this problem.

FoE states: "The Sevenoaks area’s performance on climate change is poor compared to other local authority areas.

"Sevenoaks particularly needs to do much better on improving home insulation, increasing renewable energy, and increasing waste recycling."

The council has yet to declare but are currently 'looking at how they can best respond to the nationally declared Climate Emergency'.

Swale

Local authority: Swale Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 8% of Swale is woodland

Transport: 24% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 39% of Swale homes are well insulated

Waste: 41% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Swale has 95 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 76%

Swale was rated as better than most areas
Swale was rated as better than most areas

Swale, which covers Faversham, Sittingbourne, Isle of Sheppy, has a green (almost complete) circle from FoE for its high score of 76%.

But there's always room for improvement. It should aim to double its tree cover to help reduce emissions and ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030.

The FoE report states: "The Swale area’s performance on climate change is better than most compared to other local authority areas.

"Swale particularly needs to do much better on increasing tree cover and increasing waste recycling."

The council declared a climate emergency in June.

Thanet

Local authority: Thanet District Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 2% of Thanet is woodland

Transport: 27% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 36% of Thanet homes are well insulated

Waste: 35% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Thanet has 50 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 72%

Thanet was rated as average on the test
Thanet was rated as average on the test

According to FoE, Thanet's performance is average, despite only 2% of the area being covered in woodland.

Less than a third of journeys are made by public transport too. Thanet has been given a target of making this 40% by 2030.

FoE warns: "The Thanet area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Thanet particularly needs to do much better on increasing tree cover and increasing waste recycling."

The council is one of many authorities to have declared a climate change emergency.

Tonbridge and Malling

Local authority: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 19% of Tonbridge and Malling is woodland

Transport: 26% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 43% of Tonbridge and Malling homes are well insulated

Waste: 42% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Tonbridge and Malling has 20 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 64%

Tonbridge and Malling scored 64%
Tonbridge and Malling scored 64%

Tonbridge and Malling's efforts grant it an 'average' score, and leaves it sitting in the middle of Kent's rankings, which range from 80% and 52%.

Throughout the area 35% of emissions come from housing, 39% from transport, and 26% are industrial and commercial emissions.

The FoE state: "The Tonbridge and Malling area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas.

"Tonbridge and Malling particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, increasing renewable energy, and increasing waste recycling."

The council voted unanimously in favour of recognising the global climate change emergency in July.

Tunbridge Wells

Local authority: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Friends of the Earth results:

Trees: 22% of Tunbridge Wells is woodland

Transport: 36% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking

Housing: 33% of Tunbridge Wells homes are well insulated

Waste: 48% of household waste is reused, recycled, or composted

Renewable energy: Tunbridge Wells has 46 megawatts of renewable energy available

Overall climate-friendly score: 80%

Tunbridge Wells got a green stripe
Tunbridge Wells got a green stripe

Last but by no means least, Royal Tunbridge Wells scores a respectable 80%, making it joint 'best' in Kent along with Ashford.

It also has the highest percentage of its land covered in woodland in the county, with more a fifth being taken up by green space.

And more than a third of its journeys are undertaken by either walking, cycling or public transport.

The FoE report states: "The Tunbridge Wells area’s performance on climate change is better than most compared to other local authority areas.

"Tunbridge Wells particularly needs to do much better on improving home insulation and increasing waste recycling."

The council declared the climate emergency in August.

If you would like to test how climate friendly your area is click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


More by this author


Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More