Permanent restrictions planned for Britain’s first ‘zero-emission’ street

Pollution-busting traffic restrictions introduced on Britain’s first 24/7 ‘zero-emission street’ could return permanently, under City of London Corporation plans. 

 Beech Street was closed to all petrol and diesel vehicles in March 2020, in an 18-month experiment aimed at slashing levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide. 

 Now, the Square Mile’s governing body is consulting on proposals to ban polluting vehicles from the street permanently, except for deliveries, access to car parks and forecourts and rubbish collection. 

 In a change to the previous experiment, all traffic – including petrol and diesel vehicles – would be allowed to turn left into Beech Street from Golden Lane, in response to feedback from Islington Council. 

 City of London Corporation Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee Chairman Graham Packham said: 

 “As an enclosed, tunnel-like thoroughfare, Beech Street has long had the unenviable record of being one of the most polluted streets in the City, with unacceptably high levels of nitrogen dioxide. 

 “Like the previous trial, the scheme we’re proposing would have a significant effect on reducing pollution levels and improving air quality in this part of the Square Mile. 

 “Doing nothing is not an option – we need to take radical action to ensure residents, workers and visitors to the City can breathe clean, healthy air.” 

 The 18-month trial saw nitrogen dioxide levels drop 61% to 24.0 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) and contributed towards a 42% drop since 2016 in NO2 levels in the City as a whole. 

 Permanent restrictions in Beech Street would shave around 25% off the current NO2 reading of just under 40 µg/m3 and contribute to the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy. 

 The ambitious strategy commits the organisation to reaching net zero in its own operations by 2027 and in its supply chain by 2040, and to support the achievement of net zero for the Square Mile as a whole by the same year. 

 Meanwhile, the City Corporation and Islington Council are also working together on plans to make the Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane area a healthier neighbourhood. 

 Both authorities are seeking views on how to cut pollution and through traffic, and improve the quality of streets and public spaces in the neighbourhood. Feedback will help them develop a plan, which will then be subject to a formal consultation.

  Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality, and Transport, said:  

 “We know that the climate emergency is critically urgent, and that we must take action now to adapt our streets so that they are cleaner, greener, and healthier.

 “Through the creation of a Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane Healthy Neighbourhood, we hope to create streets that are more attractive and welcoming for local people, communities, and businesses, that help improve air quality, climate resilience, and biodiversity.  

 “Our vision includes improvements to help the local community flourish, such as additional green spaces, unique placemaking features, and changes to make it easier to walk, cycle and wheel.

 “Local people are central to these plans, and we’re looking forward to hearing their views on how we can create improved, more environmentally-friendly streets for all.” 

  People can find out more and take part in the Beech Street consultation online at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/beechstreet and the Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane Healthy Neighbourhood engagement at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/healthyneighbourhood – both run until Monday, 6 March. 

 Notes to editors 

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk 

Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services

City of London Corporation
07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk