Nonlocal ‘rat-runners’ shortcutting through south Fulham to be fined up to £130

 (Hammersmith & Fulham)
(Hammersmith & Fulham)

Nonlocal drivers who take shortcuts through south Fulham streets could be fined up to £130 by local authorities after the warning period for a Clean Air Neighbourhood trial ends.

Number plate recognition cameras have been used by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to identify drivers from outside the area who use side streets off Wandsworth Bridge Road to cut through the borough.

In a bid to reduce non-essential traffic and harmful nitrogen dioxide levels in residential streets, these drivers were banned under a Clean Air Neighbourhood trial scheme that ran along the eastern side of Wandsworth Bridge Road.

The trial scheme was so successful, with 8,000 fewer cars entering the area, that the council agreed to expand it to the western side of the road, covering all of south Fulham, on December 1.

If backed by residents, the trial could become permanent in the borough. The trial will run for six and 18 months.

Fines have already been issued to out-of-borough drivers taking shortcuts through eastern residential streets under the scheme, and now fines will be issued to drivers using western streets.

The two-month warning period for out-of-borough drivers using western streets ends on January 31.

From next Wednesday, February 1, Penalty Charge Notices worth £65 will be issued, the council has confirmed.

If the fine is not paid on time, drivers could be hit with a £130 penalty.

South Fulham (west) Clean Air Neighbourhood trial (Hammersmith & Fulham Council)
South Fulham (west) Clean Air Neighbourhood trial (Hammersmith & Fulham Council)

There are expected to be some teething problems - and exceptions made - as residents and legitimate visitors to the area become aware of the scheme.

The Standard has been told tens of thousands of fines already issued on the eastern side of Wandsworth Bridge Road were immediately cancelled.

“We do not want to fine motorists. We want to reduce pollution and congestion,” the council said.

“That is why we ran an extended two-month warning period from 1 December during which out-of-borough drivers got a warning notice and a letter explaining the clean air trial – not a fine.

“Please look out for the signs and avoid using the residential streets off Wandsworth Bridge Road as cut-throughs.”

The Clean Air Neighbourhood scheme does not affect any Hammersmith & Fulham residents, businesses or their visitors.

Friends, family, carers, deliveries and tradespeople can still reach streets in the Clean Air Neighbourhood without driving past cameras. Visitors will need to enter and leave the area via Wandsworth Bridge Road or enter and leave via New Kings Road.

Residents can also book visitors free access through the cameras by using RingGo via its app or online.

Fines will only be issued to out-of-borough drivers who pass through the cameras as they cut through from Wandsworth Bridge Road to New Kings Road, and vice versa, the council said.

Councillor Ben Coleman previously told the Standard that the traffic control scheme has the dual effect of improving residents’ health and reducing congestion on small residential streets.

The Clean Air Neighbourhood scheme is one way the local authority hopes to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels that have crept back to unhealthy levels after a dip in 2020 — with cars being the biggest cause.

A Hammersmith and Fulham council air quality report showed that local levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeded the annual average national limits of 40 µg/m3 and World Health Organisation Air Quality Standards of 10 µg/m3 last year.