Beech Street, in the heart of London’s financial district
is taking extreme action against air pollution by banning all petrol and diesel cars.
It will be restricted
to zero-emission vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians by spring 2020, with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, access to car parks and for refuse collection and deliveries. The road, much of which runs underneath a housing estate, will participate in an initial trial for 18 months, while air quality and traffic are monitored.
“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.”
- said Jeremy Simons, chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee.
Road transport is responsible for around a fifth of UK greenhouse gas emissions, according to the country’s Office for National Statistics. While the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions fell by more than 30% from 1990 to 2017, emissions from road transport increased by 6% over the same period, it says.
Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, according
to Public Health England, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. It has been linked to a range of diseases including coronary heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease and lung cancer.
And it’s a worldwide issue, with the World Health Organization estimating that more than 90% of the global population live in places where air quality levels exceed their recommended limits. London is among more than 30 cities that have signed the Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration
, pledging to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and make a major area zero-emission by 2030.
And capitals around the globe, including Oslo, Madrid and Mexico City, have started to look
at banning cars from their streets.
Read also Air quality in Europe 2019 - report
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions will also be key in the fight against global warming.
Public Health England says governments and local authorities must take action to limit and mitigate air pollutants.
The City of London Corporation’s plan aims to bring nitrogen dioxide levels on Beech Street within air-quality guidelines set out by the European Union and World Health Organization. After the trial, the corporation will decide whether similar measures are suitable for other streets.
“It will bring substantial health benefits,” “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.”
- says Oliver Sells, Streets and Walkways Committee Chairman.source