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'Many' police vehicles in breach of new Brussels emissions limit
Scores of old diesel vehicles belonging to Belgium's federal police force are now too polluting to drive in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent - and have been redeployed to other parts of the country instead.
The federal police said "many" of its thousands-strong fleet of vehicles did not meet the strict standards for the low-emissions zone that the three cities have put in place.
"They are not being replaced because of our very precarious budgetary situation," said a police spokesman. "We want to get things in order. Our staff are adhering to the rules in their private life, so why not at work?"
Since 1 January, Euro 3 diesel vehicles (which date before 2005) can no longer drive in the Brussels-Capital Region. From April, those breaking the rules will be fined €350 per offence.
An exemption applies for emergency and rescue vehicles - which the federal police force has requested.
"For the other vehicles, either we avoid using them, or we redirect them towards services outside Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp," the spokesman added.
Even if the budget to replace the polluting vehicles could be found, it would take up to 18 months for the replacements to be made, because a long and heavily regulated public procurement procedure has to be followed.
Brussels' six local police zones also have some old polluting vehicles that need replacing. Because they all work within the Brussels-Capital Region, the option of redeploying the dirtiest vehicles elsewhere is not possible for them.
The Brussels-Ixelles police zone has 17 cars out of 305 which no longer meet the required standards. The Montgomery police zone has just one out of 116 - and is already working to replace its old Euro 4 vehicles before they are covered by the ban from 2022.
"Since 2014, we have had a very clear desire to no longer buy diesel vehicles," Montgomery zone manager Michel Jonniaux said. "We've been strengthening our policies and anticipating.
"We think we have a responsibility. If citizens are complying with the new rules, so should we. So we are replacing a small part of our fleet each year to spread the burden over time and not have to renew everything all at once."