The SUNEX ‘Bristol city region’, consists of the functional urban region of the ‘West of England’, which is comprised of four local governing authorities: Bath & North East Somerset, the city of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. The Bristol city region also has an additional layer of governance through the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). WECA is an intra-regional body whose key function is to drive innovation and clean, inclusive growth, it is also responsible for the regions strategic transport policy and planning along with a number of public transport operations.

The Bristol city region contains two cities, the ‘core’ city of Bristol and the UNESCO world heritage city of Bath, and smaller settlements of towns and villages set amidst rural hinterlands, for example, Western-Super-Mare and Clevedon in North Somerset, Thornbury and Yate in South Gloucestershire and Radstock and Midsomer Norton in Bath and North East Somerset. This range of settlements across the region translates into a diversity of geographic and socio-economic characteristics.

1.17 million


1 032,7 km²


1 133

inhabitants / km²


Focusing on the city of Bristol, there is an active food growing community. There are at least forty-five community based growing projects in the city that between them cultivate 296 570 m² of land within the city. However, as much of the region’s food production is dominated by livestock, a high proportion of the arable crops are used solely for livestock feed, although most potatoes, around 30% of wheat and the horticultural crops are for human consumption.

961 kg/a

total food consumption per capita

97 kg/a

plant-based products consumption / cap

80 kg/a

meat products consumption / cap

860,9 ha


0,8 %

agricultural land share to the total land


Water supply

The West of England’s water supply comes predominately from Bristol Water. On average 264 million litres a day are supplied to just over 1.22 million customers. This supply is split between 25% for business use and 75% for domestic needs. Each domestic customer, on average, uses just around 146 litres per day.

Water demand

The supply of the water comes from 68 sources split into three main types: reservoirs and lakes 42%, underground wells and boreholes 12% and a canal abstraction 46%. In geographical terms around half the supply needs are met from southern reservoirs located in the Mendip Hills (the largest one being Chew Valley Lake which contains 20,460 million litres when full) and ground water sources with the other half coming from the northern canal source located outside of the West of England area. The split of actual supply can vary during the year dependent on weather conditions. The canal source is considerably more expensive to treat and distribute compared to the Mendip sources, but its availability does not vary much throughout the year, whilst the Mendips rely on winter rainfall to refill and steadily empty during the summer period. The water is treated at one of 16 plants across the supply area before being distributed to customers via a highly interconnected network of pipes that stretches 6,700 km. To move this water around and to store the treated water ready for supply there are 164 pumping stations and 139 covered storage reservoirs. The flexibility of the network means water from just about any sources can be relayed to any part of the supply area dependent on needs. All water distributed for public consumptions has to meet very strict water quality standards which are based on Europeans standards together with additional national standards which are in line with the Drinking Water Directive of 1998.

216 litres

daily water consumption per capita

66,6 m³/a

water consumption / cap

53,3 m³/a

household water consumption / cap


Domestic use


Business use


Energy demand

The Energy used for 2016 in The West of England can be spilt as: Electricity consumption 4.3 TWh, Transport 8.2 TWh and Heat 8.4 TWh (Figure 33). Overall energy use has decreased by nearly 14% since 2005 (Figure 34). Electricity has dropped by 18%, industrial use has decreased by over 27% and gas consumption has decreased by 26%. The transport sector energy use, albeit with minor fluctuations, has not decreased in the same period.

The energy consumption for the four main administration areas of The West of England has been steadily declining since 2005. In 2016 they had reached: South Glos 6.9 TWh, Bristol 6.9 TWh, North Somerset 4.8 TWh and Bath 3.0 TWh (WEES, 2019). Overall, in the UK 29.3% of electrical generation is through renewables. In the West of England, as a percentage of overall energy, it was estimated that 4.8% of electricity and heat consumption came from renewable generation in 2016 and 12% of electricity.

Energy supply

The supply of energy for electricity, heat and transport comes from a range of sources. Petroleum (from crude oil) is mostly supplied from the UK although this has been declining as the North Sea supplies have become depleted. Electricity comes from a mixture of large generators and small, local generators. The large generators feed into the transmission network which is known as the national grid. The gird balances the systems every second of every day using a range of markets to provide the energy. This energy is then supplied to the distribution level of networks. These are owned and operated by Distribution network operators (DNOs) who operate the cables that connect the transmission system to the customers. The smaller, local generators feed directly into this system. The West of England area has three DNOs. Customers, both domestic and business, then purchase their power from Energy suppliers. These companies do not own or operate any network assets they are simply the retailer selling the energy. They purchase the energy they need to supply their customers. The gas market operates in a broadly similar fashion. National transmission comes from bulk providers like offshore gas or gas piped in from other countries.

Some of this goes directly to national electricity generation the rest goes to local transmission industrial processes and households. Smaller more local sources of gas production from sources like crops, waste and slurry produced as biogas feed directly onto the local transmission.

21,6 TWh

final energy demand

Final energy demand by sector

  • Industry and Commercial 30% 30%
  • Transport 29% 29%
  • Domestic 41% 41%

Final energy demand by fuel

  • Electricity 26% 26%
  • Bioenergy & wastes 6% 6%
  • Petroleum products 29% 29%
  • Gas 39% 39%