The surroundings in which people live have both direct and indirect impacts on their wellbeing. The environment covers a myriad of issues and this short overview highlights a number including physical location, land-use, dereliction, emissions, recycling, deprivation and housing, of which some are problem areas for the county.
Covering 3,075 sq km and with a large resident population, the Lancashire-14 area is one of the most populous and urbanised localities in Britain, but still manages to be an area of astonishing diversity. There is much to be admired in the traditional townscapes, the multitude of stone-built dwellings and mills, handsome civic architecture and the relics of early industrialisation in which the region led the world. There are attractive stretches and beaches too along its 77-mile (123-km) coastline and the rural villages and unspoilt landscapes of Lancashire are particularly fine.
The Lancashire landscape is diverse in both physical appearance and function. Great natural physical diversity from coast and estuary landscapes to uplands with extensive areas of beautiful countryside and moorland. The county incorporates parts of two designated areas of outstanding natural beauty (Forest of Bowland and Arnside/Silverdale).
Designated green belts intended as "permanent" restraints to development to check unrestricted urban sprawl, to assist in safeguarding the countryside from urban encroachment and to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another cover over 79,000 hectares or a quarter of the county's total land area (13% for England as a whole).
The rural and urban categorisation article allocates each census output area in the county into either two types of urban or four rural classifications. Lancashire residents on the whole have easy access to the coast or countryside, but within the core urban areas of many towns it is a different story. Many are still blighted by the legacy of an earlier industrial era and there are some serious pockets of deprivation.
The air quality and monitoring of air quality and health impacts articles give an overview of local results, monitoring stations, air quality management areas, and measuring the impacts on human health and the natural environment.
In general, good air quality is recorded along the county's coast and rural areas, whilst higher results are seen in urban localities away from the coast.
The bathing water quality articles have over the years recorded a general improvements at various Lancashire beaches. One note of caution, has been the Blue Flag international award scheme. Blackpool South beach in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was the first beach in the North West to achieve the prestigious Blue Flag award.
The recently added River Water Quality article provides a rudimentary interactive map that shows compliance of water bodies in Lancashire with the Water Framework Directive. There are currently four years' worth of data, from 2013 to 2016. Most of the river segments and reservoirs are generally of moderate quality, and there are a lot more good than bad or poor. The separate levels of compliance with the chemical and ecological standards can be viewed.
The Biodiversity, leisure and land ownership article highlights a range of national and local organisations with an interest in the Lancashire environment. It also mentions some of the major local landowners, and various recreational sites across Lancashire.
One area of success linked to improving the environment has been in tackling household waste. Lancashire has within a generation undergone a step change in how it deals with household waste and the amount either recycled or composted has risen dramatically from a miserly 1% in 1990.
Landfill Tax is not a source of revenue for central or local government, but is distributed amongst organisations engaged in projects that benefit the local community. In Lancashire grants are awarded by Lancashire Environmental Fund and Farington Community Fund. The Landfill Communities Fund enables operators of landfill sites to work in partnership with enrolled environmental bodies. The website allows projects to be listed by county, and selecting Lancashire lists a some of those undertaken by local environmental or charitable bodies. Also, the SUEZ Communities Trust and Biffa Awards websites together identify examples of projects around the country.
This section includes three topics that consider, local, national and international designations for the Lancashire-14 area, and agricultural land classifications.
Much of Lancashire's countryside and the coastal areas is covered by one or multiple designations. The West Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest was the largest such site newly designated for some time. Of particular note is the extensive amount of rural Lancaster and Ribble Valley that is within the Forest of Bowland.
The agricultural land classification map shows how the large amount of green belt land in West Lancashire also has a grade 1 agricultural classification.
Page updated February 2019