Zero-Emissions Street Trial Ends, Pollution Levels Can Return to Illegal Levels

The zero-emissions street was an initiative to help improve the quality of air in London and the whole of the UK. Its specific goal is to minimise NO2 or nitrogen dioxide levels in accordance with the World Health Organization and European Union limits and guidelines.

In December 2019, the City of London Corporation (CLC) announced that London would be the location of the first zero-emissions street. Beech Street of the Barbican Estate was closed to diesel and petrol vehicles from spring 2020 until the trial ended in September 2021. Throughout the period, only pedestrians, cyclists, and electric vehicles were allowed in the area.   

The zero-emissions street was an initiative to help improve the quality of air in London and the whole of the UK. Its specific goal is to minimise NO2 or nitrogen dioxide levels in accordance with the World Health Organization and European Union limits and guidelines.

Additionally, CLC authorities hoped for an improvement in air quality in the surrounding areas, including Prior Weston Primary School and the Richard Cloudesley School. 

Created as part of London’s Air Quality Strategy and Transport Strategy, the zero-emissions street scheme exempted bin lorries  and deliveries, emergency vehicles, and vehicles going to the car parks off the Beech Street area. 

Authorities chose Beech Street because the busy area is enclosed and known to have high levels of toxic air. 

Post-trial period

In September 2021, the zero-emissions zone trial period ended. Changes were immediately noticeable: dirty, toxic air is back and NO2 levels have significantly gone up. 

London Air recorded NO2 levels at an average of 43 micrograms per cubic metre this year, which is well above the average of 40 µg/m3 per-year legal limit. Clean Cities Campaign UK head, Oliver Lord, said Beech Street is once again crowded with diesel vehicles that emit high levels of NO2. The numbers are expected to go over the legal limits in a matter of time. 

Lord believes that ending the Barbican zero-emission zone puts the area at risk for polluted air, especially since Beech Street is an enclosed thoroughfare – a road tunnel – that does not allow fumes to properly disperse. It has always been known as a toxic air hotspot, with nitrogen dioxide levels at an average of 58µg/m3. 

When the zero-emissions street trial commenced in July 2020, NO2 emissions in the enclosed area went down to 19.5µg/m3, which is a 67% drop from previous numbers. This is a significant improvement even if it coincided with the first COVID-19 lockdown (which resulted to a huge traffic decrease). After the lockdown was lifted, NO2 levels slightly went up to an average of 24.7µg/m3, which was still an improvement compared to the pre-COVID-19, pre-zero-emissions street scheme numbers.

The Environmental Research Group’s Louise Mittal revealed that the drop in NO2 emissions for the duration of the scheme was even lower than those of other areas in London. It was only when the zero-emissions street scheme was lifted that the NO2 numbers climbed up again. 

When the scheme was in place, Beech Street’s average traffic of 9,500 vehicles per day went down to 930 a day. Thousands of car owners and motorists in diesel and petrol vehicles were caught throughout the trial period. 

Despite promising a public consultation aimed at making the zero-emissions street scheme permanent, CLC authorities put an end to the trial and said it had to be done as the experimental traffic order’s 18-month limit has finished. 

The zero-emissions street trial received part of its funding (£1 million) from the Clean Air Fund of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. 

Effects of NO2

NO2 or nitrogen dioxide has harmful effects not only on the environment but on human health as well. It becomes even more dangerous when it combines with nitric oxide to form nitrogen oxides or NOX.

NOx is a collective term for extremely toxic gases that typically come from road and non-road vehicles, such as cars, vans, and boats. When a person is exposed to nitrogen oxides, they can experience headaches, breathing problems, aggravated asthma, and reduced lung function. 

Severe health effects include respiratory ailments, cardiovascular issues, and early deaths. Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety may also develop.

The terrifying health effects of nitrogen oxides are one of the reasons why car owners who were affected by the Dieselgate scandal are encouraged to file a diesel emissions claim against their car manufacturers. The vehicles equipped with defeat devices should never have been able to pass through any zero-emissions street because of the high volumes of NOx they emit. 

Manufacturers installed the devices to their diesel vehicles so emissions levels would be manipulated during testing, but their lie would be revealed  as soon as the vehicles were driven on real-world road conditions. The emissions levels of these vehicles are revealed to far exceed the WHO and EU limits. Essentially, the manufacturers misled their customers, another reason why car owners should file for emission compensation.

Filing the claim

So, how do I file my diesel claim?

Any car owner is expected to ask this question as the process may be quite challenging. However, with the help of a panel of expert solicitors, the process can be easier. If you partner with experienced, highly trained, and a regulated panel of solicitors such as the ones at, your chances of winning against your manufacturer are higher. They are investigating numerous diesel claim cases, and are Mercedes diesel compensation claims experts. Get in touch with them now to start your diesel claim. It’s your own way of contributing to the goal of an emissions-free UK.

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