Climate emergency, actions and investment in Sheffield

After declaring a climate emergency last year, Sheffield City Council sets out all the work taking place to help reduce climate impact.

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A climate emergency was declared in Sheffield, in January 2019 and a new commitment was made to bring forward the city’s carbon neutral target from 2050 to a minimum of 2030.

Under this commitment various projects are already in progress and Sheffield City Council has committed £43 million from its capital budget to address climate issues in the city.

Some of these projects were developed before the climate emergency was declared, and as well as contributing towards a better climate, were actually started to achieve other outcomes for residents in the city such as improved journey times and a better waste collection service.


City wide planning and action

  • £100,000 is to be invested for wider stakeholder engagement.
  • A Citizens Assembly is being commissioned to consider the necessary actions in the city to implement this change. It will be drawn to represent all parts of the city, including young people.
  • A specialist partner is also being commissioned to work with the Council to inform a Zero Carbon Sheffield Plan and develop the evidence base for the Climate Citizens Assembly.
  • The development of this work will be supported by Sheffield’s Green City Partnership Board and will include a detailed analysis of the city’s current performance across all sectors of the city.  It will provide the details on the specific options and actions that are required as city to achieve net zero emissions within a decade, as well as the further actions for the Council to completely decarbonise its own activities, including our council homes, offices and transport fleet.

Flood Resilience

Flood defence wall alongside Meadowhall
New flood defence walls at Jessops Riverside and along the Five Weirs Walk

Work is ongoing and more than £18 million is being spent to protect Sheffield from the expected increased flood risk resulting from climate change. Work has already been completed on some schemes and further resilience projects are being progressed.

  • Flood resilience work to protect the Lower Don Valley completed in 2017 and during the recent flood event in November 2019 these defences prevented significant damage and disruption.
  • Plans are now moving forward for the £9 million Upper Don Valley flood protection scheme phase 1 (Lower Loxley defences) which is scheduled to start construction in July. This scheme will protect parts of Hillsborough and Owlerton that flooded in November.
  • A £3m citywide culvert scheme is being developed to improve water flow throughout the city, diverting excess water away from the city’s roads and highways.
  • Sheffield’s award winning Grey to Green scheme is the UKs largest retrofit SuDS project and also one of the UKs largest inner city green streets. Grey to Green aims to increase urban biodiversity, create a green corridor, protect people from air pollution, achieve city cooling (bringing down temperatures with vegetation), treat contaminated water and promote health and wellbeing.
    • Phase 1 completed in 2016, transforming the city’s former inner ring road into a green corridor.
    • Over a five year period £5.8m is being invested in to Phase 2. The Castlegate to Victoria Quays section is now under construction.

Sustainable Travel

Almost all of the First and Stagecoach fleet will now have cleaner engines

Around £15million will spent on making the city’s transport greener and creating sustainable travel infrastructure for walking, cycling and bus travel.

  • Promoting active travel with more walking routes, segregated cycle lanes and bus lanes.
  • Investing £1.5m from DfT to deliver high quality cycle networks linking the city centre to Broomhall and providing segregated and direct links across the Inner Ring Road.
  • The Council has recently prepared an £85m programme of cycling, walking and bus corridor improvements as part of a further SCR Transforming Cities Fund bid, announcements on which are expected soon.
  • The Council has delivered: cycle loans, invested in a fleet of bikes and ebikes that people can loan for free; provided cycle training to people and Bikeability training to school pupils in Sheffield.
  • Working with Bus companies and government £4.9 million will be invested in to Cleaner Bus Technology Fund to retrofit up to 277 buses to the Euro VI standard.
  • Investing £1.25m to increase access to rapid-charge points for electric cars, with many more charging points planned for the city.
  • Investing £3.4m in to highway changes at Broadfield Road to improve public transport and bus times along the route.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy

  • The Council now purchases electricity generated from 100% renewable sources. This is an increase of 81% since last year.
  • Energy Surgeries have been established to provide advice on sustainable energy in the home and Smart Energy Meters have been installed for Council tenants – creating a 40% saving for tenants as well as a substantial reduction in wasted energy.
  • Looking to expand heating networks across the city to bring low cost, sustainable heating to many more homes.
  • Spending £5.7m replacing more than 3,000 obsolete boilers and heating systems in council housing, to more efficient systems.

Improving air quality

A clean air zone could be introduced in Sheffield
  • In Summer 2019 the Council consulted on its proposals to introduce a Clean Air Zone to improve emissions from the 19% of vehicles that are responsible for 50% of the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions from transport.
    • The planned CAZ C would result in significant improvements in air quality across the city and the consultation showed that 80% of the over 12,000 people in Sheffield responding to the consultation feel the Council should make improving Air Quality a priority.
    • A range of support packages are being developed for drivers of older more polluting vehicles to assist them in upgrading their vehicles instead of paying a daily charge and the council is seeking funding to deliver these from Government.
    • The council is currently awaiting confirmation from Government on its CAZ C proposals and following this the Full Business Case will be finalised and submitted to Government setting out the full proposals.
  • Anti-idling zones are now active outside of all primary and secondary schools, and other notable places such as hospitals and health centres.
    • In 2018 Civil Enforcement Officers were given powers to issue fixed penalty notices to drivers for leaving their engines running in designated ‘anti-idling zones’ outside schools.
  • Pilot schemes are taking place to close targeted roads to traffic for set periods of time to create a better, less polluted and congested environment, targeted at benefiting children. Pilots being developed include:
    • School Streets – where roads outside schools are closed at drop-off and pick-up
    • Play Streets – a resident led scheme where a road is closed to traffic for a set period of time, occurring at a designated time
    • Living Streets – where a road is closed to traffic completely
    • The schemes have been trialled in other areas to improve air quality and make roads safer. They also encourage more children to play out or to walk to school.
  • The Council is making its own vehicle fleet cleaner and greener. The Streets Ahead team will run another 15 electric vehicles to replace its current diesel vehicles. It is also taking a major eco-friendly step by trialling two vans that use a hydrogen fuel cell to extend the range of power the battery gives to approximately 200 miles. The Council also runs an extra five hydrogen vehicles.
  • More than 20 ultra-low taxi charge points are to be installed in the city centre, with the installation programme due to start in March 2020
  • Working with three other local authorities in the city region to develop a project to support small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) to implement low carbon improvements within the business. If successful project activities are due to start in September 2020.

Waste, recycling and energy recovery

The Magtec fitted electric bin lorry is powered at the Energy Recovery Facility
  • Improved kerbside waste collection with a new ‘Twin Bin’ recycling service, replacing the blue box with a brown bin for Metals, Glass and Plastics, and relaunched the Green Bin service.
  • Developing a Trade Waste Recycling Facility to encourage recycling by businesses.
    Improved recycling facilities for shared properties such as flats, high density housing, and student accommodation.
  • Less than 0.5% of black bin waste sent to landfill.
  • Sheffield is trailing electric bin lorries powered by the very waste they have collected. The re-powered lorries have zero carbon emissions and produce no air pollution.
  • Working with the city’s schools to see a reduction in plastic, including huge reductions in the amount of single use plastics used at school meal times.
  • General household waste is taken to the city’s Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), which generates electricity for the National Grid and heat for the city’s award winning District Energy Network.
    • As well as reducing landfill waste the ERF reduces greenhouse gas emissions because it avoids the need to burn fossil fuels to produce energy.
    • This prevents around 21,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from being released every year, as well generating energy for the city’s schools, council owned buildings and thousands of homes.

Trees, Woodlands and Green Spaces

Trees in Graves Park, Sheffield

Sheffield City Council will continue to develop projects and initiatives that improve, minimise or reduce the city’s climate issues and will communicate on each of these work streams as they progress.