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Beech Street, Barbican
Photograph: Shutterstock

This London street will transform into the UK’s first emission-free road

By El Hunt

Here’s some news to put a spring in your step – in early 2020, the UK’s first zero-emission street is coming to London’s Square Mile.

Beech Street runs underneath the Barbican, but it’s not just brutal thanks to its distinctive concrete architecture. This enclosed tunnel currently fills up with exhaust fumes, and the road’s nitrogen dioxide levels measure, on average, at more than double the annual limit. 

As part of an eighteen-month experimental scheme, the street will now be restricted to pedestrians, cyclists, and zero-emission vehicles. The only exceptions to the ban will be emergency services, refuse lorries, and deliveries. 

Beech Street’s closure comes as part of a wider push by the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee. It intends to turn other parts of the Square Mile into zero-emission zones by 2022, and has also proposed cutting the speed limit to 15mph. 

Nearby traffic and emission levels will be monitored throughout the closure. The hope is that air quality will improve: when Beech Street previously shut during an air monitoring study at the Barbican four years ago, emissions there dropped below the EU’s legal limits. So hopefully we'll be able to breathe easy!

Find out how you can make London greener by joining our campaign: How to Build a Green City.

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