Green feather in our cap

Sunderland is one of the country's greenest cities, claims a report that has measured our carbon footprints.

New research by conservation campaigner WWF puts Wearside – a former hotbed of industry – as eighth best of 60 UK cities ranked by their ecological footprints.

It comes just days after eco-charity Forum for the Future, formed by leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, placed Sunderland in the top five in its Sustainable Cities Index.

The eco-footprint is a measure of how much of the world's resources each person uses – energy, food, land, housing and goods.

The average resident in Sunderland is consuming the equivalent of 2.83 times more than the Earth can afford to provide for them.

In Winchester, the worst city, the figure is 3.62 times.

Durham was the region's worst city, finishing 53rd. Newcastle was ranked 41st.

And when it comes to consumer goods, Sunderland came top overall, consuming the least of all UK cities – showing Sunderland is not joining the throw-away culture.

But there are lessons to be learned too and the council will be looking at the findings to see how it can reduce its ecological footprint in line with its commitment to sustainability and the environment.

Coun Joe Lawson, Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation on the city council, said: "Sunderland is aiming to be the most liveable city in the UK, and being liveable means helping residents live greener lifestyles.

"These findings confirm Sunderland is ahead of most other cities in this regard, and on track with its 'liveable' aspirations."

But Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF, said reducing the footprint could only be achieved if people made drastic lifestyle changes, such as cutting car use and holidaying closer to home.

"The battle for the environment will be won or lost in our cities," he added.

"They have the highest potential for eco-living due to local facilities, public transport links, dense housing and shared public resources."

However, he acknowledged that even the greenest citizen could only cut their footprint by an average of a third, and called on Government and businesses to play their part in reducing the nation's impact on the planet.