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New category of diesel vehicles to be excluded from Brussels Low Emissions Zone

Illustration picture shows a traffic sign signalling the beginning of the 'low emission zone' in Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE)
06:22 18/05/2021

From 1 January 2022, the Brussels Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) will include a new category of vehicle banned from entering the restricted areas.

Euro4 standard diesel vehicles – cars, vans, buses and minibuses with diesel engines produced between 1 January 2006 and 1 January 2011 – will no longer be able to operate within the LEZ, which covers the 19 Brussels municipalities. It is the latest step by Brussels Environment to reduce air pollution in the capital.

According to Brussels Environment, 96,000 vehicles with Belgian plates are affected, of which 38,000 are registered in Brussels. These statistics have been compiled from counts carried out last March on the basis of images recorded by the so-called "smart" cameras responsible for controlling vehicles entering the Region.

"This is important because it is the latest generation of diesel vehicles that is not equipped with a particulate filter.,” said Brussels Environment in a statement released at the launch of the new campaign on Monday. “These pollute more than others. They emit large amounts of fine particulate matter.”

As with the previous bans related to the LEZ, which was introduced in 2018, a three-month transition period is planned from the beginning of next year, ending on 1 April 2022, after which offending drivers will be fined €350 for non-compliance. It will be possible, as at present, to buy a one-day pass, for €35. A maximum of eight day passes can be purchased per calendar year and per vehicle. The day pass is valid only for the calendar day for which it was purchased until 6.00 the following day.

According to Brussels Environment, the measures taken under the LEZ show their effectiveness. "Between 2018 and 2019, annual concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) decreased by an average of 10% across all measuring stations in the Region, and Black Carbon (BC) concentrations also show a downward trend across all stations," the agency said.

In February, the Brussels region was criticised by the European Union for not meeting air quality standards, especially when it came to the concentration of nitrogen dioxide.

Air pollution, particularly that created by road traffic, causes cardiovascular disease and respiratory illnesses. In Belgium, it is estimated that more than 9,000 premature deaths are caused by air pollution each year.

The campaign launched on Monday by Brussels Environment focuses on the link between air quality and health, but also promotes alternatives to private cars to get around the city such as walking, cycling, using cargo bikes, public transport, shared cars, and taxis "The solutions are multiple and contribute to better air quality," concluded the Brussels-based body.

Written by Nick Amies