COLCHESTER is one of the most climate-friendly areas in the country, according to new rankings released by environmental experts.

Green campaign group Friends of the Earth assessed councils across the UK in categories including renewable energy usage, public transport quality and recycling figures.

Colchester Council was ranked as the joint most climate-friendly council in the east of England with a score of 84 per cent, also putting it in the top ten performing councils across England.

In comparison, neighbouring Tendring received a score of 52 per cent and Braintree 64 per cent.

Earlier this year, Colchester Council was one of the first councils to officially declare a Climate Emergency which commits it to a series of sweeping measures to avert environmental breakdown.

Since the announcement, the council has said it will become carbon neutral by 2030, develop forward-thinking renewable energy projects and it had already established a cross-party Conservation and Environmental Sustainability Task and Finish Group.

Leader of the council Mark Cory said: "I’m delighted, but not surprised, that Colchester ranks so close to the top of the Friends of the Earth league table.

“It reflects extremely well on our efforts and aspirations to address concerns and issues across the environmental spectrum.

“The environment is our number-one priority. That is why we were one of the first in the region to declare a Climate Emergency.

"But we also recognise there is much more to do. We mean it when we say it, and we’re acting on it. That’s why we set up the Task and Finish Group."

In 2016 Colchester Council won the Environmental Awareness award at the Essex Business Awards for its commitment to cut carbon emissions.

The following year, three years ahead of schedule, the authority achieved a 55 per cent cut in carbon emissions compared to 2008, making it one of the leading carbon-cutting councils in the country.

Going forward, the council is pushing ahead with green initiatives such as the first of its kind Northern Gateway Heat Network as well as a £249,000 DEFRA backed project to combat air quality issues in the borough.

Mr Cory continued: “This council can be rightly proud of its environmental record, through its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, minimise waste, improve air quality and develop sustainable and renewable sources of energy that are helping communities become more resilient to climate change.”

More details about the Friends of the Earth data can be found here.