How did you decide which is the best county?
Each county was assessed on quantifiable information that we gathered direct from a variety of authoritative sources, such as the CPRE, the Met Office, Defra and Natural England. Unfortunately, in many cases, data from the Isle of Wight wasn’t compatible with that from the rest of England, and, therefore, it wasn’t included.

How has the survey changed since our last one in 2003?
There are new categories—such as Health, Flood Risk, Light Pollution, Local Food and Village Greens—and almost every aspect of the study has been refined or expanded. The Landscape category now includes broadleaved forest and green-belt acreage, as well as AONBs, SSSIs and national parks, and Heritage now counts Landmark Trust buildings and historic houses mentioned in Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Houses, as well as National Trust properties. We decided that the survey had to reflect current concerns about the environment, so we looked at the rates of recycling and composting on a county-by-county basis in order to find the Greenest county.

* Read Country Life’s article on why Devon was the best county in England 2009

* Read Country Life’s article on why Devon was the best county in England 2009 

Table Key
For each category, we ranked the 40 counties from the best (1st) to the worst (40th), and calculated which county had performed best overall. Each county’s position in the 2003 survey is shown in brackets, but please note that it is not a direct comparison with our 2003 survey.

Categories
Society: the strength of each county’s social fabric, measured by local-council performance ratings, provided by the Audit Commission; recent crime statistics from the British Crime Survey; average levels of Council Tax; and the frequency, and cost, of fly-tipping, published by Defra

Landscape: the quality of the county’s landscape, measured by broad-leaved forest and green-belt acreage, as well as AONBs, SSSIs and national parks

Health: the health of the county and its inhabitants, measured by life expectancy, levels of exercise and hospital ratings

Flood risk: Percentage of properties in flood plains. The winner is the county least at risk

Heritage: the number of Landmark Trust buildings and historic houses mentioned in Simon Jenkins’ ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, as well as National Trust properties

Arts: the number of literary festivals and accredited museums

Green: the county’s Green credentials, measured by the rates of recycling and composting, as well as an assessment of each county’s ‘ecological footprint’, which is the space needed to support the average resident’s lifestyle

Tranquillity: according to CPRE data maps

Light pollution: according to CPRE data maps

Sunshine: average hours per year
Wildlife: number of wildlife trusts and RSPB reserves

Property price: average residential price—the highest house prices being the best

Good pubs: number in ‘The Good Pub Guide 2008’

Dining: number of Michelin stars

Local food: number of entries in the BigBarn database

Top schools: number in ‘The Times’ list of the top schools

Greens: number of village greens

Who’s Who: number of entries in ‘Who’s Who’

Guns: number of shotgun licences

  • Elephant

    Surrey prettier than Lancashire. Are you people for real. Have you been to the Trough of Bowland and the Ribble Valley?

  • Trevor Donald

    This is very interesting data and looks as though it has taken some time to put together, my only comment would be that it is impossible to read the table

    Is it possible to download a readable version anywhere?