Antwerp’s low-emission zone comes into force


The City of Antwerp introduces its low-emission zone today, which prevents the most polluting vehicles from entering the city centre and Linkeroever

Tackling fine particles

Antwerp introduces its new low-emissions zone (Lez) in the centre of the city and in the Linkeroever district today. The introduction of the zone will affect older cars in an effort to reduce the levels of fine particles in the air.

Antwerp is known as one of the most polluted cities in Europe, due to fine particulates and CO2 levels caused by traffic congestion. “We have to do this to address the high amounts of fine particles and soot in the air,” Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever told VRT. “We know that it will seem annoying to some and that it will experience teething problems, but we hope to keep these to a minimum, and we hope that everyone realises that it’s really a necessity.”

In terms of vehicles that run on petrol or LPG, the new regulations generally only affect those more than 20 years old. The ability to drive in the zone depends on the Euronorm of the vehicle, which is indicated on the registration document. The higher the Euronorm, the cleaner the car.

For vehicles running on petrol or LPG, the minimum Euronorm is 1. For diesel vehicles, the Euronorm is 4 or higher, although diesel vehicles with a Euronorm of 3 fitted with a particulate filter are still allowed until the end of 2019.

There is an exception: Diesel cars with Euronorm 3 without a particulate filter can register and pay a fee to be admitted into the zone, depending on the type of vehicle.

Registration is also required for cars driving into the zone without a Belgian or Dutch number plate, whether or not the emission requirements are met. The city has installed automatic number plate recognition cameras to check for unregistered plates.

Day passes for cars that do not meet the new norms are available for a fee of €35. These can be obtained up to eight times a year per number plate. Any breach of the zone law carries a fine of €125.

Although the zone comes into effect today, fines and fees will not apply until 1 March so that residents and visitors can get used to the new system. The new system will be in place until 2020, when restrictions will become tighter. They will become stricter still in 2025.

Drivers can get more details on the cars permitted in the zone on the Lez website, also available in English.

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