UK’s First Zero-Emissions Street to Open Next Year in London


Photo Credit: GoranH / Pixabay

The U.K.’s first 24/7 zero-emission street is expected to open to vehicles*, cyclists, and pedestrians by spring 2020.

For 18 months next year, Beech Street—much of which runs under the Barbican Estate apartment complex—will block gas and diesel automobiles from entering.

(Exceptions include emergency vehicles, as well as access to residential parking lots, refuse collection, and deliveries. Everyone else will be rerouted on approach.)

“This is a groundbreaking scheme by the City of London Corporation,” Oliver Sells, Streets and Walkways Sub (Planning and Transportation) Committee chairman, said in a statement. “It will bring substantial health benefits to those who live and work in the Barbican area, and will also help reduce noise pollution.”

Named after Nicholas de la Beche, a lieutenant of the Tower of London in the 14th century, Beech Street runs west-east—mostly in a pseudo-tunnel under the Brutalist Barbican Estate.

According to the City of London, the “busy, enclosed thoroughfare” experiences “high levels” of contamination.

This new project, however, aims to reduce air pollution and bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels within guidelines set out by the European Union and World Health Organization.

Officials also hope it can improve air quality for Beech Street’s neighbors—particularly two nearby schools.

“Drastically reducing air pollution requires radical actions, and these plans will help us eliminate toxic air on our streets,” according to Jeremy Simons, chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee.

“Nobody should have to breathe in dirty air,” he continued. “And we will continue to take bold and ambitious steps to ensure that the health of Londoners is protected.”

The trial will be enforced using automatic license plate recognition cameras. Drivers who ignore the new rules will be slapped with a fee.

If successful, the program may be made permanent, and even expanded to other streets across the City of London.

* Zero-emissions ones, of course—which must comply with Transport for London’s standards: maximum 70g CO2/km, minimum 20-mile zero-emission range, Euro 6 equivalent NOx emission standard.

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