Plans to launch the UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street have been backed by The City of London Corporation in a bid to improve air quality in the Square Mile.

Beech Street is now expected to be restricted to zero emission vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians by Spring 2020, pending final approval by Transport for London (TfL).

As per TfL’s standards for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount for the Congestion Charge, zero emission vehicles will need to comply with all of the following criteria:

• maximum emission of 75g of CO2 per km;

• minimum 20-mile zero emission range;

• Euro 6 equivalent NOx emission standard.

Exceptions will be provided for emergency vehicles, access to the car parks off Beech Street and for refuse collection and deliveries. Bus route 153, which is fully electric and runs down Beech Street, is unaffected by the changes.

The experimental traffic order will run for a maximum of 18 months, during which time the impact on air quality and traffic will be monitored.

Beech Street experiences high levels of air pollution as it is a busy, enclosed thoroughfare, and a significant improvement in air quality is expected, resulting in health benefits for pedestrians and cyclists who use the street.

The City Corporation also hopes to improve air quality in the vicinity of the street, particularly around the entrances to Richard Cloudesley School and Prior Weston Primary School. If deemed successful, the trial may be made permanent.

It will use the trial to consider whether similar measures are suitable for other streets in the City of London.

Streets and Walkways Sub (Planning and Transportation) Committee chairman Oliver Sells said: “This is a ground-breaking scheme by the City of London Corporation.

“It will bring substantial health benefits to those who live and work in the Barbican area, and will also help reduce noise pollution.

“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.”

The chair of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee, Jeremy Simons, said: “These measures are another important step towards cleaner air in the City.

“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, and we will continue to take bold and ambitious steps to ensure that the health of Londoners is protected.”

The Beech Street scheme is only part of a much wider initiative by the local authority to tackle air pollution. The City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee has backed proposals to turn parts of the Square Mile into zero-emissions zones by 2022 and cut the speed limit to 15mph as part of its new Transport Strategy.

It has already banned the purchase of diesel vehicles from its own vehicle fleet, where there is a clean market alternative.

In 2018 the City Corporation announced new emissions-based charges for on-street parking in the Square Mile, targeting high polluting transport with higher charges while rewarding drivers of low emission vehicles with lower tariffs.

Following approval by the relevant City Corporation committees, the implementation of the scheme is subject to final approval from TfL.