The City of Leicester enjoys the distinction of being Britain’s first 'Environment City' and the greening of the city was singled out for special praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. Internationally, Leicester is at the forefront of urban nature conservation and sustainable development. The award recognised Leicester's environmental achievements and the commitment by local organisations to sustainable development. The award also acknowledged Leicester's commitment to continuous environmental improvement involving the whole city community.
If you want to get away from the hustle of the city you will never be far away from a park or garden to relax in. In the Spring and Summer Leicester’s parks host a range of carnivals, music festivals and celebrations. Victoria Park is adjacent to the University’s campus. Abbey Park, where Cardinal Wolsey once lived, Knighton Park with its nature reserve and the University’s botanic gardens (next to our Halls of Residence) create a pleasant environment and in the summer throng with students enjoying the sun whilst studying and others celebrating the end of exams.
There are miles of green painted cycle ways and cycle parks for students to get around on safely.
The city tries to incorporate concern for the natural world into all its activities, promoting recycling, energy efficiency, organic produce, and the protection of wildlife and green spaces. Partners from local businesses, pressure groups and community representatives are constantly developing fresh initiatives and codes of practice.
Leicester Abbey Park - A Green City
The practical effects of these efforts are apparent everywhere, from the energy saving lighting of the Market to the recycling centres in the city's many parks. Even Leicester City Football Club with its "blue army" of supporters has gone green. The club has an organically fertilised pitch and a kestrel nestring box on a floodlight stanchion.
Many of the city's woods, parks and protected meadows can be visited via the Green Ringway, a waymarked cycle and pedestrian route which will eventually encircle the city. It links older cycle routes such as the Great Central Way and Forest Way.
To the north, Riverside Way takes you through a wealth of wildlife in an award-winning managed park and offers the chance to walk, cycle or take a river cruise from the Waterside Centre through the richest concentration of natural habitat in the city. New ponds and lakes have been created and a profusion of shrubs and trees planted.
The show piece of Leicester's environmental awareness programme is the Eco House at Western Park (a couple of miles from the city centre on the Hinckley Road). This is a demonstration centre to offer advice on making homes friendlier to the earth, and includes a show house, a large organic garden and a shop selling environmentally friendly goods. The house is open all day at weekends and in the afternoons Wednesday to Friday. Admission is free and refreshments are available.
This all adds up to the most ambitious and comprehensive environmental initiative ever undertaken by a British city, and world recognition has been quick to follow. Leicester was selected as one of only twelve local environmental projects worldwide to be honoured at the Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992.
A European Community grant of almost one million pounds is further evidence that the Environment City project is going from strength to strength and helping to show how we can all tread more lightly on our planet.
Leicester though the lens
Britain’s first Environment City Leicester