Foreign cars unregulated in Antwerp low-emission zone


Cars with foreign number plates are not recognised by the camera system installed to catch residents driving in Antwerp’s Lez illegally

Images stored for a year

Vehicles with foreign number plates that do not conform to Antwerp’s new low-emissions zone (Lez) are not incurring fines, according to environment city councillor Nabilla Ait Daoud. That’s because there is no standard procedure for obtaining details on the owner of cars from outside of Belgium.

Lez came into force in February and requires vehicles driving in the centre of the city to adhere to emission standards. For vehicles that run on petrol or LPG, regulations require that the car have a Euronorm of at least 1, so only cars more than 20 years old are generally problematic.

For diesel vehicles, however, the car must have Euronorm of 4 or higher. So it’s these cars that the city is concerned are driving in the zone illegally. Registration is also required for cars driving into the zone without a Belgian or Dutch number plate.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras recognise Belgian plates and can immediately show if a car is allowed to enter the Lez or not. But when it comes to foreign plates, there is no way to make that determination. This means that foreign drivers escape fines that are imposed on local residents.

“Foreign plates are photographed by the unmanned cameras, and the images will be stored for a year,” said Ait Daoud. “But no fines can be handed out until a solution is found.”

Federal mobility minister François Bellot has said that he cannot share the federal government’s access to number plate data unless it is expressly permitted by an international treaty. Options, he said, include updating those treaties, which would require votes in multiple federal parliaments, or an extension of a European treaty on exchange of data. That treaty, however, does not include France.

Photo: Ingimage