BOURNEMOUTH has the potential to become the UK’s most environmentally sustainable ‘city’, a report has found.

The research says Bournemouth is on course to be among the top 10 urban areas for economic growth at the start of 2021 – yet with the lowest CO2 emissions per person.

But the study also says the town performs relatively poorly when it came to environmentally friendly commuting.

The report, UK Powerhouse, by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic & Business Research, saw carbon emissions fall by 6.2 per cent year-on-year in 2017.

It says the success can be partly attributed to a strategy which encourages renewable energy and energy efficiency in new buildings, as well as greener travel.

Since 2011, Bournemouth has decreased carbon emissions per capita at an average rate of 4.9 per cent.

It is also among the top five for recycling, with 49 per cent of its waste avoiding landfill.

However, only three per cent of the population uses low emission transport such as bus or rail to get to work.

Only five per cent use zero emission transport – cycling and walking – to get to work, far behind the top performing cities.

Vicky Brackett, chief executive of Irwin Mitchell’s business legal services division, said: “In June, the UK has announced its ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the first major economy to do so.

“The ever-more urgent topic of climate change and sustainability has reached the highest level of government and it’s important that business recognise not only the important role they have to play, but also the opportunities that exist.

“In the case of Bournemouth, it performs well in some indicators of environmental sustainability but poorly in others. If it can improve its share of low-and zero-emission transport, carbon emissions can decrease even further, making it possible for Bournemouth to become the most sustainable city in the UK.”

Cllr Felicity Rice, cabinet member for environment and climate change at BCP Council, said: “There is huge potential for our conurbation to lead the way nationally as a sustainable region. We’ve already pledged to make our operations carbon neutral by 2030, and will be working with the community to ensure the three towns of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole can also be made carbon neutral, ahead of the UK target of 2050.

“This is a particularly exciting opportunity to improve our transportation carbon footprint – focusing on making walking and cycling safer and more appealing, on the reduction of road traffic incidents and on reducing congestion to help our air become clean again.”