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Environmental zone offensive in Spain

In the next few years, owners of old vehicles will have a hard time in Spain. The largest environmental zone in Europe is being introduced in Madrid. In the rest of the country, the number of low emission zones will increase 30-fold!

After a bitter setback for Madrid's environmental activists - the abolition of the previous low emission zone - the Iberian capital is now cracking down on old vehicles again at top speed. Madrid is to have a permanent low emission zone again from 2022. By 2024, this zone is to grow successively and then form the largest environmental zone in Europe. The project is planned within the framework of the sustainability plan "Madrid 360".

The new Madrid zone is to be 604 square kilometres in size, almost 4 and 6 times larger than the respective zones in Brussels and Paris. It is to exclude so-called A-vehicles, i.e. those that cannot obtain a sticker with the labels 0, Eco, B or C. These are diesel vehicles with Euro-Norms. These are diesel vehicles with Euro standard 3 or worse and petrol vehicles with Euro standard 2 or 1 or worse. Initially, however, only vehicles registered outside the city will be affected. Madrileneans will be given a grace period. They are to be encouraged to switch to greener means of transport, above all with alternatives and positive incentives.

For Spaniards and foreigners living outside the city, however, things will be tight as of 1 January 2022. Then A-vehicles will no longer be allowed to drive in the area within the M-30 ring road. One year later, from 2023, the ring road itself will also be affected by the regulation. From 2024, the entire city area will be closed to non-Madrilenian A-vehicles, and from 2025, the grace period for Madrid residents will also be over.

Between 2021 and 2023, 110 million euros are to be made available for the implementation of the plans for clean air. The money is to be used for the changeover to low-emission vehicle fleets in public, but also private spaces. Air conditioning systems are also to be modernised and old wood stoves replaced. In the city centre, 2 free and one chargeable electric bus line have already been introduced. Diesel buses are to disappear completely from the fleet by 2023. Electric bike stations have also already been significantly expanded. After the installation of 90 more stations, the BiciMad bike system now counts a proud 258 stations in the city. Pedestrian zones have also been expanded. For example, at the Puerta del Sol. To reduce traffic in the city centre, a park-and-ride car park was also set up at the Fuente de la Mora. More are to follow at the Pitis and the Aviación Española. In addition to the new environmental zone, special protective measures are to be taken in the Centro district and near Plaza Elíptica, as these areas are currently particularly affected by air pollution.

But it is not only in Madrid, but throughout the country that the new environmental zones are being introduced. There will soon be 150 new environmental zones in conurbations with more than 50,000 inhabitants, and in some cases also in areas with 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. This is required by the new "Climate Change Law", the new "Plan for Recovery, Transformation and Resilience" and the programme "Spain 2050: Foundations and Proposals for a Long-Term National Strategy". Among other things, all these laws have the goal of fundamentally changing the Spanish vehicle fleet and putting significantly more e-cars on the roads. From 2040 onwards, new cars with combustion engines will no longer be allowed to be sold. The toll will also be raised and fuel will become more expensive. All in all, driving in Spain will become much more unpleasant.

With regard to the new environmental zones, it can be assumed at first that the cities will orientate themselves on the A-vehicles, similar to the new Madrid environmental zone. But gradually, the rules for the low emission zones in Spain will probably be tightened in a similar way as in neighbouring France, so that eventually not only the A-vehicles, but all diesels will slowly disappear from the cities.

For tourists and commuters from other countries, who, according to the current status, will not need a sticker but a registration to enter the low emission zones, the preparation before travelling to Spain will thus become much more complicated. Registration already exists in Barcelona.

You can read about the new Spanish low emission zones in our blog and of course in the Green-Zones app. This way, you can travel to the Iberian Peninsula relaxed despite the new rules.