beech street tunnel

An 18 month trial starts in March 2020 along Beech Street tunnel to create the UK’s first Zero Emission street.

This was first announced via local press and TV in December, much to the surprise of many local residents as there has been no consultation. There are concerns that there will be unwelcome consequences for the area which will affect the life and health of the local resident community.

London to get UK’s first zero-emission street
The Guardian 17 December 2019

Barbican Estate’s Beech Street to become Britain’s first 24-hour zero emissions road under ‘radical’ new plans
The Standard 17 December 2019

London street to become first to ban all diesel and petrol cars
Metro December 17 2019

London’s busy Beech Street to be UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street
The Standard 16 December 2019

court of common council

GLE resident, Cllr Sue Pearson posed the following two questions at the Court of Common Council on Thursday 16 January:

Whilst the Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee has been given notice of my question, the residents of Golden Lane Estate and adjacent areas have not been given notice of the project for making Beech Street tunnel the first zero emission street in London.

The first they knew about it was when they read about it in the Evening Standard just before Christmas. They still have no information and neither do I other than what I have now found in reports.

So that I can inform them, would the Chairman please state the project’s objectives and its benefits, what options were considered and who the Corporation considers to be the stakeholders.

Cllr Sue Pearson

The Planning Chair recognised that the press announcement may have caused confusion and worry and that residents reading about the plans first in the press is clearly not acceptable. However, there is to be no consultation, the scheme is going ahead as planned and an ‘information campaign’ will be underway shortly.

Cllr Pearson’s follow up question was as follows:

I thank the Chairman for his reply.

However the only benefit from this project is cleaner air in Beech Street tunnel for the cyclists and pedestrians who pass through it for just a few minutes. That small benefit comes at the price of the residents of Golden Lane and adjacent areas suffering up to 8% more pollution, on a 24/7 basis, as a result of the displaced traffic, together with increased noise and reduced road safety. Cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to use the tunnel; they could go another way. The residents, my constituents, will have no choice but to suffer increased pollution as a result of this project.

Our environment committee chair is quoted in the Evening Standard as saying: ‘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‘. So why is the Corporation undertaking an expensive trial of a project that will result in hundreds of its own residents suffering a material increase in pollution 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This project won’t eliminate pollution; it will just displace it to areas where it will have a worse effect.

This seems to be yet another vanity project that will enable the City to boast of creating the first zero emission street in the country, with no thought for its own residents, or for common sense.

Will the chairman and the responsible sub-committee reconsider a project that will breach the City’s own policy on clean air and tarnish its reputation?

Cllr Sue Pearson

As part of his reply the Planning Chair indicated that this ‘experiment’ will be an opportunity to determine how to introduce zero emission streets elsewhere in the City.

To read more: BEECH STREET TUNNEL CLOSURE UK’s First Zero Emission Street… and for Golden Lane?

Clearly all local residents are in favour of improving air quality, however there are legitimate concerns about traffic displacement and rat running through local side streets and ironically increased pollution on Golden Lane and the surrounding area. Whilst pedestrians can choose to avoid walking through Beech Street Tunnel it is very difficult, if not impossible, for residents to avoid walking on the streets that serve their homes. Surely such a densely populated area of the City should not be the location for an experiment of this kind, particularly without appropriate prior consultation with residents so as to address any concerns.

If you have any comments please contact Cllr Sue Pearson on and copy in GLERA on 

Public sessions to discuss the scheme will take place at Exhibition Hall 1, Golden Lane, EC1Y 0QT (near the junction with Beech Street) on the following dates:

Tuesday 18 February12pm to 2pm6pm to 8pm
Monday 24 February12pm to 2pm6pm to 8pm
Thursday 27 February12pm to 2pm6pm to 8pm

The City will also post updates on their designated highways twitter feed @squarehighways

official documents