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Ghent decides against expanding its Low Emissions Zone

Illustration picture shows a sign that signals you are entering the LEZ the 'Low Emission Zone' LEZ (Lage Emissie Zone) in the city centre of Ghent. (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
05:39 20/08/2021

There will be no geographical extension of the low-emission zone (LEZ) in Ghent after a study showed that an expansion would not bring any additional environmental benefits.

The Greens, the main party in Ghent, had long called for the current LEZ in the city centre to be extended, but the city’s councillors on Thursday finally decided against it after reviewing the study conducted by the consulting firm Transport & Mobility of Leuven.

Ghent established its low emission zone in 2020, in order to improve air quality. Only vehicles that comply with certain conditions have access to it. The project to expand this area depended on the results of the study.

The results showed that the current LEZ works well enough and that it successfully reduces emissions of carcinogenic fine particles and nitrogen oxides. Therefore, the conclusion was that a geographical extension would not bring any additional benefits.

In fact, aside from the LEZ, increasing numbers of people are choosing less polluting cars while technological advances are also reducing emissions from conventional engines, the research revealed.

"The low emission zone will therefore not be enlarged geographically, but we will develop it with a whole set of new ambitious measures," said Tine Heyse, city councillor for the environment. These new measures, planned for the period between 2022 and 2024, will be paid for via a ‘Fund for Air Quality’, the councillor announced. The fund is expected to be in the range of €4.5 million.

Written by Nick Amies