Madrid

The Spanish capital of Madrid is implementing a plan that will see its central city streets rid of air polluting petrol and diesel-fueled cars from late next month.

The plan, known as “Madrid Central”, will see all cars and motorbikes that are not either all-electric or hybrid, or possessing a minimum environmental classification, banned from the city’s central streets during the day.

Exceptions will be made for residents, or visitors with a special permit, who may continue using their high emissions vehicles until they purchase a new car.

The ban also includes restrictions on parking cars on streets – residents must keep their old high emissions cars parked in a carpark.

Certain vehicles with higher emissions classifications will be allowed to access the central city area at night between 10pm and 7am, when public transport and general traffic has considerably subsided.

The ban starts as of November 30, 2018, according to the City of Madrid’s website, and is part of a concerted effort to reduce the busy European city’s air pollution, which has a history of “chronic non-compliance” of EU air quality standards.

Service providers to the downtown district will be given a grace period of 2 to 6 years to transition their fleet to low emissions vehicles – by 2020 for vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes, and by 2025 for those over 3.5 tonnes.

Residents will also have a small grace period to get used to the new regulations, with the city only issuing warnings until the end of the European winter.

However, those found flaunting the new rules after that will cop a 90 euro fine – which the city intends to enforce through use of cameras to monitor the city streets and car parks.

There are a 2,000 estimated deaths per year in Madrid alone as a result of high nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

Implemented by Manuela Carmena, Madrid’s 74-year old mayor and former judge, the goal for the city is to bring down nitrogen oxide levels by 40 percent.

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