Could trams return to York – to help turn the city carbon neutral?

Sheffield brought trams back in the 1990s. Photograph: Sheffield tram on Wikipedia

The return of a tram network and urban farms – just two of the ideas being considered by York council to cut the city’s carbon emissions.

Encouraging local food production, reducing food miles, changes to street lighting, and retrofitting insulation are also up for discussion at the first meeting of City of York Council’s climate change committee.


In March the council declared a climate emergency, and has set itself a target to become net carbon neutral by 2030.

And the newly elected Lib Dem and Green Party coalition leading the council created the special committee to make this happen. It will meet for the first time on 10 September.

CO2 audit

An electric car charging point at Nunnery Lane car park in York. Photograph: YorkMix
A report prepared for the first meeting of the committee says its first steps will include compiling data about the city’s current CO2 emissions.

It says: “This data must include transport, electricity use and generation, heating, food production / waste, outsourced CO2 production (through trade and investments).”

The council will then look at getting software to manage the different actions it will take to reduce carbon emissions.

Committee members will also consider transforming York’s transport network. A report says this could include:

  • Local transport plan, bus hub, trams, electric buses, electric cars, charging points, generating energy from our car parks (solar PV).

Ultra low energy

They also want to consider how to ensure the huge York Central development could be made greener, perhaps by creating ‘passive houses’ – ultra low energy buildings:

  • What can CYC learn from the Bahnstadt development in
    Heidelberg? Bahnstadt being the largest passive house district in Europe and built on the site of their old railway goods yard in the heart of their historic city.

And the council will look at ways to improve energy use in its own buildings, reduce food miles by growing more produce nearby, making transport more environmentally-friendly and retrofitting insulation in buildings.

Speaking about the climate emergency at an executive meeting last week, Andrea Dudding from union Unison pointed out that there are only two council premises with central recycling – West Offices and Hazel Court household recycling centre.