City of London’s Beech Street set to become UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street



The City of London Corporation has today 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).

As per TfL’s standards for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount for the Congestion Charge, zero emission vehicles will need to comply with all of the following criteria:

  • Maximum 75 g CO2/km

  • Minimum 20 mile zero emission range

  • Euro 6 equivalent NOx emission standard

City of London say that to deliver these changes, vehicles will be rerouted via advance warnings and signage on the approach to the street. Vehicle restrictions will be enforced via automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, with a penalty charge notice issued to drivers who contravene the experimental traffic order.


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.

The City Corporation is encouraging the uptake of fully electric and compliant hybrid vehicles to improve air quality in the Square Mile, in line with its Transport Strategy and Air Quality Strategy.


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.


Image credit: Stephen Craven (Geograph) CC2.0

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