In a paper published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Lancaster compared emissions from buildings and transport with the population size of the UK’s 146 largest settlements.
As expected, the relationship is broadly linear: as population rises, so do emissions. But there are considerable outliers, particularly among smaller towns, related to their form and structure, says the paper. For example, Luton is compact, with relatively little green space. There is little opportunity for pollution to disperse. Its road structure is also comparatively inefficient, requiring people to travel further than in the average town.