The City of London Corporation has backed plans to launch the UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street in a bid to improve air quality in the Square Mile.
Beech Street, much of which runs under the Barbican Estate, is now expected to be restricted to zero emission vehicles*, cyclists and pedestrians by Spring 2020, pending final approval by Transport for London (TfL).
Exceptions will be provided for emergency vehicles, access to the car parks off Beech Street and for refuse collection and deliveries. Bus route 153, which is fully electric and runs down Beech Street, is unaffected by the changes.
The experimental traffic order will run for a maximum of 18 months, during which time the impact on air quality and traffic will be monitored.
Beech Street experiences high levels of air pollution as it is a busy, enclosed thoroughfare. A significant improvement in air quality is expected, resulting in health benefits for the many pedestrians and cyclists that use the street.
The scheme aims to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels within air quality guidelines set out by the European Union and World Health Organisation.
The City Corporation also hopes to improve air quality in the vicinity of the street, particularly around the entrances to Richard Cloudesley School and Prior Weston Primary School. If deemed successful, the trial may be made permanent.
It will use the trial to consider whether similar measures are suitable for other streets in the City of London.
Streets and Walkways Sub (Planning and Transportation) Committee Chairman, Oliver Sells QC said:
“This is a groundbreaking scheme by the City of London Corporation.
“It will bring substantial health benefits to those who live and work in the Barbican area, and will also help reduce noise pollution.
“The experimental scheme will be enforced using the latest in smart camera technology and I hope it will be the first of many other schemes like this.”
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee, Jeremy Simons said:
“These measures are another important step towards cleaner air in the City.
“Drastically reducing air pollution requires radical actions, and these plans will help us eliminate toxic air on our streets.
“Nobody should have to breathe in dirty air, and we will continue to take bold and ambitious steps to ensure that the health of Londoners is protected.”
To improve awareness of the zero-emission restrictions on Beech Street, the City Corporation will provide clear street signage. An information campaign will take place before the restrictions come in, including social media, leafleting and direct discussions with City firms.
The Beech Street scheme is just one part of the City Corporation’s fightback against air pollution. The City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee has backed proposals to turn parts of the Square Mile into zero-emissions zones by 2022 and cut the speed limit to 15mph as part of its new Transport Strategy.
It has already banned the purchase of diesel vehicles from its own vehicle fleet, where there is a clean market alternative.
As well as working with businesses through its CityAir Programme, the City Corporation is leading a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling – and its new procurement rules have brought in tight restrictions on harmful emissions from bulldozers and generators.
Its CityAir app provides over 27,000 Londoners with low pollution travel routes across the capital, with advice and alerts when air pollution is high.
In 2018 the City Corporation announced new emissions-based charges for on-street parking in the Square Mile, targeting high polluting transport with higher charges while rewarding drivers of low emission vehicles with lower tariffs.
Following approval by the relevant City Corporation committees, the implementation of the scheme is subject to final approval from TfL.