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Old diesel cars banned in Brussels low-emissions zone

10:00 02/01/2018

Diesel cars made before 1997 are banned throughout Brussels from this week, as a low-emissions zone (LEZ) covering the entire region comes into force. 

Offenders face a fine of €350 - but there will be a transitional phase of nine months during which no fines will be issued, only warnings.

The ban applies to Belgian and foreign-registered vehicles and will be extended to apply to more vehicles each year until 2025 in a bid to help meet EU health-based air quality limits.

By 2019, the only diesel cars allowed on the road will be those that meet the Euro 4 emission standard from 2006. Petrol vehicles pre-2001 will also be banned from 2019.

According to the Belgian Automobile Federation, about 5,000 diesel cars registered in Belgium before 1997 are still on the road. By 2025, 262,000 vehicles currently on the road will be banned, according to estimates by Brussels Environment.

The move follows criticism by the European Commission for Belgium’s non-compliance with pollution standards. With the new ban, the goal is to reduce pollution related to exhaust gases.

Drivers have the right to use a banned vehicle for up to eight days a year, on payment of a €35-a-day tax. Exemptions apply for priority vehicles, including those providing transport for the elderly or disabled.

Almost 300 road signs have been put up at major access routes into the capital. Brussels is enforcing the ban using number-plate recognition cameras linked to the vehicle registration database. Fifty cameras are already operating, with a further 175 due by June.

Antwerp became a low emission zone in 2017, while Mechelen is set to follow this year and Ghent in 2020.

Photo: Dirk Waem/Belga

Written by The Bulletin