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Low emission zone in case of polluted sea air

The situation for car drivers in France is becoming increasingly confusing. Now Bordeaux is also to get a temporary environmental zone. In the city by the sea, however, it is not only traffic that causes high particulate pollution. The sea also contributes to the air pollution peaks.

A temporary low emission zone could be introduced in Bordeaux as early as March this year. The city would ban old vehicles from entering when air quality is poor, joining almost 30 other regions in France in the measure for better air. All 28 municipalities in the Bordeaux metropolitan area would be covered by the zone, according to the prefect of the Gironde department, Fabienne Buccio.

Before the temporary environmental zone comes into force, however, a citizen consultation is to take place to record the response of the population. In this way, it should be possible to regulate traffic in a differentiated manner during the pollution peaks and respond to the needs of the citizens. The consultation is to start as soon as possible and last 21 days. Critics see no need for the low emission zone. Fabienne Buccio herself also admitted that the zone would not have been activated once in 2020 because the pollutant limits were not exceeded. In 2018, the zone would only have had to be activated twice.

In terms of traffic, these figures may be correct. But in Bordeaux, it is not only vehicles that contribute to high particulate pollution. In recent days, for example, the extreme weather conditions over the Atlantic also caused enormous particulate pollution in the metropolis by the sea. Salt and sand particles dissolved in the air, although of natural origin, are quite dangerous. Similar to fine dust from man-made combustion processes, they irritate the respiratory tract and can therefore be extremely dangerous to the health of asthmatics in particular.

In such situations with natural fine dust pollution, a temporary environmental zone would therefore make perfect sense, as old vehicles could then be locked out so as not to contribute additionally to the high natural pollution.

However, introducing the low emission zone within less than 2 months seems very ambitious. It is also questionable why the prefect is carrying out a citizens' consultation when it is already clear that an environmental zone is to be introduced. Perhaps the prefect is actually hoping for constructive feedback. Or maybe she just wants to make sure that no complaints come later. After all, the citizens had been asked.

You can see all advance warnings and driving bans on a daily basis in our Green-Zones app.