An interesting report was recently published by the City of London Corporation on how they plan to spend a £1 million grant from the Mayor of London for a Low Emission Neighbourhood scheme (LEN). This was a figure (£990,000 to be exact) to be spent over three years and although some minor projects have been delivered it seems that the intended “transformational” scope is missing and that the money needs to be spent in the 2018-19 financial year or it will be lost.
As a result two schemes have been put forward: 1) for a Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) restriction on Moor Lane in the City; and 2) for a similar restriction on Beech Street. Beech Street runs east/west underneath the Barbican like a tunnel and is a particularly poor location for air quality as a result.
But it looks like only a Moor Lane ULEV scheme will be delivered in 2019 using the LEN funding. The air pollution benefit may be relatively low but it will enable the impact of such schemes to be measured, particularly as they affect taxi drivers who are some of the more common users of that road. It will also encourage taxi owners to upgrade to newer zero emission capable vehicles.
The Beech Street proposals will be phased but if found to be viable will ultimately be restricted to west-bound only ULEV vehicles. Funding for this will apparently come from later schemes and might be delivered in 2021.
Comment: Moor Lane is a very minor part of the City road network and it would seem likely that air pollution there not just arises from vehicles on the street itself but is blown in from the surrounding area. It may be a good location for an experimental ULEV scheme but it’s a huge amount of money for a scheme that will probably have relatively little impact on air pollution. Beech Street would have a much bigger impact but would seriously affect traffic in the City as it is one of the key routes. No doubt that is the reason for deferring that scheme. But there seems to have been no consideration of the impact on the residents of the Barbican who have car parking provision in underground car parks and would be affected by the closure of Beech Street (partial or otherwise).
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