Low-emission zones (LEZ), which prohibit access to certain major cities for heavily polluting vehicles, have been successfully introduced in six European countries, including Belgium. This is according to a French report. In Belgium, the cities Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp, among others, introduced such an LEZ.
The report aims to draw lessons for France from the experience of other European countries in introducing LEZs. These include Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.
23% less nitrogen
“In those countries, LEZs have been successfully introduced and well accepted,” the report said. The LEZs also record an improvement in air quality. For example, London’s air contains as much as 23% less nitrogen than before the introduction of the LEZ.
Go for Euro 4 and Euro 5
On the financial front, the report recommends strengthening aid to residents of the five urban areas that exceed pollution limits and businesses near the LEZ boundary.
The report also suggests encouraging the transition of a vehicle to a plug-in hybrid and considers the implementation of automated camera control “essential”.
“The examples illustrate the feasibility of the French legal obligation to set the minimum Euro 4 standard by 2024 and Euro 5 by 2025 for light diesel vehicles in LEZ of cities where air quality rules are not regularly complied with, such as Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Rouen, and Strasbourg,” the report goes on to say.
In France, local authorities decide the criteria for the low-emission zone. They can set up either a permanent (Zones à Faibles Emissions mobility, ZFE-m for short) or temporary environmental zone (Zones de Protection de l’Air, ZPA for short). Temporary zones come into effect only in the event of a smog alert.
However, you must have an environmental sticker called Crit’Air if you enter such a zone. The Crit’Air sticker classifies vehicles according to the fine particles and levels of nitrogen oxide that they emit. There are six categories of environmental stickers, from 0 to 5, with five being the most polluting.
Currently, eleven French cities have environmental zones. By 1 January 2025, 43 cities with more than 150 000 inhabitants will have to establish an environmental zone.
In Wallonia, Belgium’s southern region, LEZs will be established from 2025. On the site urbanaccessregulations.eu, you can find information for all European LEZ, tolls, and city traffic restrictions.