Radical Moves To Curb Pollution In St Albans City Centre

PUBLISHED: 14:51 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

RADICAL new ways to improve congestion and CO2 emissions in the city centre, including asking motorists to turn off their engines at a polluted junction, are to be investigated. Motorists could be instructed to switch off their engines while waiting at th

RADICAL new ways to improve congestion and CO2 emissions in the city centre, including asking motorists to turn off their engines at a polluted junction, are to be investigated.

Motorists could be instructed to switch off their engines while waiting at the Peahen Junction lights on Holywell Hill, St Albans, to improve air quality there if investigations prove favourable.

And there will also be another look at the possible pedestrianisation of St Peter's Street and Market Place - an idea which was first mooted after St Peter's Street was closed several years ago for the county council's safety improvement scheme.

But district council leader Robert Donald stressed that the proposals were only to investigate ways of improving the situation in the city centre and not to be seen as giving the green light to any scheme.

He said: "We have enough of a problem and not to think ahead is burying our heads in the sand."

The investigations follow a meeting between Herts Highways, district council officers, local councillors and a representative of the Holywell Hill Action Group.

The council has already extended the area covered by the Air Quality Management Area Order for the Peahen crossroads and has drawn up an action plan to help reduce air pollution in the city.

But now it is to investigate the emissions benefits of asking drivers to switch off their engines at the crossroads - a step which would be unique in the country, Cllr Donald believes.

He said: "As an immediate interim action, I have asked council officers to urgently investigate the emissions benefits of asking drivers to switch off car engines while waiting at the Peahen Junction lights as environmental technical advice on this action currently appears divided.

"If it can be shown to be self-evidently beneficial, we have agreed with Herts Highways that they will provide signage requesting drivers to take this preventative action. I am not aware that this particular measure has been trialled anywhere else in the UK for this environmental reason to date."

Cllr Donald admitted that one aspect which would need close consideration was whether delays in motorists turning on their engines again would increase congestion at the junction.

The meeting also agreed to look into the possibility of pedestrianising St Peter's Street and Market Place which Cllr Donald admitted would not have a direct impact on the Peahen Junction but a tangential one.

Herts Highways will be modelling traffic flows and various traffic management options will be used to develop a model to assess their impact on surrounding roads.

Consultation will follow before any decision is taken to take forward any closure proposal.

A feasibility study is also to be carried out into a mini park and ride scheme in the district.

Cllr Donald admitted that park and ride schemes had not been successful in the past. But he maintained that with tourist attractions like Butterfly World and Heartwood Forest coming on stream with the likely increase of visitors into the district, the council had a responsibility to look at them again.


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