YOUNG people from the cast of York Grand Opera House's musical Annie came out in force to demonstrate the effect York residents have on the environment.

York MP Hugh Bayley joined the group to create an enormous "footprint" at King's Court,York.

The demonstration marked the unveiling of a report, showing how excessive consumption will lead to increased levels of pollution and waste that will damage the health of future generations.

The report, compiled by the Stockholm Environment Institute - York (SEI-Y), calculates how much land is required to provide food, energy, water and materials for the city's residents and businesses, and expresses this as a "footprint".

York's eco-footprint is currently 1,242,355 hectares. An average York resident has an individual eco-footprint of 6.91 hectares, an area equivalent to nine football pitches. York residents are above the national average of 6.3 hectares.

Professor John Whitelegg, leader of the SEI-Y, said: "York is among the top ten per cent of the world's population when it comes to consumption of the earth's resources. If we don't cut back on our consumption and clean up our environmental act then we will damage the economy, the health of our children and the planet. We are fouling our own nest and unless we get smart York will become a swamp of pollution."

The report was funded by Norwich Union as part of its support for the Energy Saving Trust's PlanetYork campaign. The year-long campaign, which draws to a close this month, aims to make York the most energy-efficient city in the UK.

Updated: 10:06 Saturday, August 03, 2002