Diesel bans move closer to home as London copies Hamburg model

Are blanket bans the right solution to the air pollution crisis? Not everyone is convinced

A sign in Hamburg’s Max Brauer Allee warns motorists that older diesel veichles are banned. Photograph: Daniel Bockwoldt/AFP/Getty Images

A sign in Hamburg’s Max Brauer Allee warns motorists that older diesel veichles are banned. Photograph: Daniel Bockwoldt/AFP/Getty Images

 

Amid the publicity surrounding Hamburg’s banning of pre-2014 diesel cars from specific city streets, it was largely overlooked that a similar ban is being enacted much closer to home. The London boroughs of Hackney and Islington have announced that, starting in July, they will ban everything bar the latest hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars from streets in Shoreditch and Bunhill. That area is just a short hop from the centre of London and the financial district of The City, but local councillors say it has some of the worst air pollution in the British capital.

“Ultra-low emission streets will have reduced levels of air and noise pollution, make it easier and safer to walk and cycle and improve the character of the area for all residents and businesses,” says Hackney councillor Feryal Demirci. “To start with we’re banning petrol and diesel vehicles in the morning and evening rush hours to reduce people’s exposure to dangerous fumes and make the streets safer when people are walking and cycling to and from work and school.”

As in Hamburg, local residents will not have their cars affected by the ban, but it could certainly cause some traffic chaos in what is already one of the busiest and most densely populated parts of London. In spite of criticism that such bans don’t reduce pollution, just move it, the council believes it’s still the best idea for now.

Are such bans inevitable here, once they’ve been extended to other areas in Europe and the UK? Possibly. The Republic never seems to suffer as badly when it comes to air pollution, which is partially down to climate and partially down to the lack of high-rises in our cities, but according to some is also down to a lack of sufficient monitoring.