Brighton and Hove is the most sustainable city in Britain, according to a leading environmental charity.

Brighton and Hove came top overall in the Sustainable Cities Index, which ranks the 20 largest British cities according to social, economic and environmental performance.

Three league tables measure environmental impact, quality of life for residents and "future proofing" - how well the city is addressing issues such as climate change, recycling and biodiversity.

Brighton won despite coming 15th in the environmental impact league table, because it was found to have the best quality of life - measured by healthy life expectancy at 65 and satisfaction with green spaces and bus services.

Low unemployment coupled with a highly educated population also counted, and the city came top of the future proofing league because of the council's commitment to tackle climate change and recycling.

The news has been welcomed in the city.

Brighton and Hove City council leader Brian Oxley said: "It's really good that council policy on this is actually translating into eco-friendly measures and that these have been recognised.

"These range from higher than average bus use to new the development near Brighton station achieving the Ecohomes Excellent rating.

"Although we're only one city, we are a famous place and hopefully we're helping spread the message that acting locally could make the difference globally."

The Sustainable Cities Index was published by Forum for the Future, the charity founded by environmentalist and writer Jonathon Porritt.

The report accompanying the index said: "The fact that Brighton and Hove is in the most affluent part of the country is reflected perhaps in the higher scores for quality of life and the lower score for environment impact."

Edinburgh was judged the second most sustainable city in Britain, with Bristol in third and London in 10th. Liverpool comes bottom of the list, after Hull in 18th place and Birmingham in 19th.

Forum for the Future plans to publish the sustainable cities index annually.

The charity's chief executive, Peter Madden, said: "We are now a majority urban world and this trend will intensify so we have to learn to live in cities in a more sustainable way.

"UK cities make claims about being green and eco-friendly without any real objective criteria to back it up. Our index will provide a base line and create healthy competition between cities to encourage sustainable urbanisation."

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