The City of London is considering banning non-electric vehicles from a special “low-emission” street, in a pilot programme that underscores the severity of the air pollution crisis plaguing the financial heart of the British capital. The City of London, often known as the Square Mile, is home to several of London’s worst hot spots for nitrogen dioxide pollution, because of its narrow roads, high buildings and congested traffic.

Ruth Calderwood, air quality manager for the City of London, said the City might trial an “ultra low emission vehicle” street that would allow only electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to pass.  Although local authorities in London have ramped up efforts to fight air pollution, the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the capital have been above legal limits since 2010. City of London officials say the Square Mile will be one of the last places to come into compliance unless further steps are taken.

“What we realise is the Ultra Low Emission Zone [introduced by mayor of London Sadiq Khan] won’t be quite enough for us to meet the limit values, so we are going to have to look at additional measures at our busiest roadsides,” said Ms Calderwood.