Tackling environmental inequality: reducing risk in deprived areas

Staffordshire University is committed to making a difference through its research and impact in communities.


Since 2003, Staffordshire University has worked with a range of government agencies, including the Environment Agency in England and Wales (EA), Scottish Natural Heritage and government departments, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), to provide research and outputs on environmental inequalities and sustainability.

Professor Jon Fairburn’s research demonstrated that people living in deprived areas disproportionately experience poor air quality and are at greater risk of their homes being flooded. Using new analysis and methods, it has developed a more detailed understanding of the distribution of environmental quality as measured against socio-economic groups in the UK. Through collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, the research has extended to address environmental inequalities internationally.


The findings of Staffordshire University’s research into environmental inequalities have influenced policy, with funding to improve air quality and reduce flooding being targeted in more deprived areas. The research has also provided an evidence base for action on environmental health inequalities to the 53 WHO European Member States. Impacts include:

  • The creation of an air quality index which forms part of the Index of Multiple Deprivation and has been used to target support for deprived populations.
  • Collaborative work with the WHO Regional Office for Europe has addressed environmental inequalities internationally (53 countries) through the development of tools and resources to raise awareness, support policy makers and inform practice.
  • The research has Informed targeted funding decisions by the Environment Agency to incentivise flood defence projects that benefit deprived areas, resulting in 53,940 deprived households being moved out of the highest categories of flood risk between 2013 and 2019.
Tackling environmental inequality: reducing risk in deprived areas 

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