Recently, information about on diesel cars ban entering cities has appeared in the Polish media. Clean transport zones are to appear in 37 Polish municipalities with a population of over 100,000. What does this mean in practice?
What about on diesel cars ban in Poland – status as of 2021
In this case, the idea is to ban all petrol vehicles. These are the assumptions of the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels, which is yet to come into force. However, works on its amendment due to EU directives are still in progress. The Ministry of Climate and Environment has conducted a series of consultations which show that there is no opposition to its introduction among institutions and local governments.
According to the project, 37 clean transport zones will be established in Poland. They will be obligatory in those municipalities where nitrogen dioxide standards are exceeded (the classification will take place based on average data for the whole year). For other localities, it will be a voluntary decision of the self-government. Zones are to appear first in Warsaw, Katowice, Wroclaw and Krakow, i.e. places where air quality is terrible. The Ministry’s data show that the zones will be created primarily in provinces’ capital cities and large centres.
The zones will start to emerge soon. Initially, the Ministry informed that the first traffic-free areas for vehicles powered by traditional fuels should appear already this year. However, in practice, it is not until 2030 that such zones will be mandatory.
Banning entry for diesel vehicles worldwide
Already at this moment, similar solutions exist in Europe and around the world, including:
- Amsterdam, Arnhem, The Hague, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht (the Netherlands). The ban applies to old petrol cars.
- Berlin, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Stuttgart (Germany). Diesel vehicles are not allowed on some streets in these cities.
- Paris (France). There are designated areas excluded from motorised traffic.
What is more, the bans even apply to Euro 5 and 6 cars. Breaking the rules involves the risk of a fine. In Belgium, it can be as much as 350 euros.
What is a clean transport zone?
The law states that the clean transport zone covers designated streets in a city where restrictions can be imposed on vehicles running on traditional fuels. That means that not only diesel cars will be banned, but also other vehicles, even if they meet the Euro emission standards.
Although these solutions may be onerous, Polish cities are characterised by terrible air quality. That is mainly due to excessive car traffic. Creating clean transport zones based on western concepts may seem problematic, but it is an expression of concern for the inhabitants’ health.
This solution is employed still more frequently in the West. Thus, if you are travelling in Europe in a petrol car, check if your destination city has a designated zone, so you don’t have to pay a fortune to enter.
Which cars will be able to enter the clean transport zone?
According to the bill, only the following vehicles will be allowed:
- hydrogen or CNG-powered
- school buses and low-emission buses
- emergency vehicles (from police cars to ambulances).
Diesel cars are not on this list, nor are LPG vehicles.
Initially, diesel cars were planned to be allowed in clean transport zones as long as they met the Euro 4 emissions standard. In the longer term, the rules were to be elevated to Euro 6. Currently, the law specifies that the zones will be divided into five categories; no petrol, diesel or gas-powered cars will be allowed in Zone V (green). A diesel car will only be able to drive in zones I-III after paying the appropriate fee. In zone one, meeting the Euro 4 standard will be enough (these are vehicles manufactured after 2006), in zone two – Euro 5 (after 2011), in zone three – Euro 6 (after 2014).
What about drivers whose cars will not enter the clean transport zones?
Drivers who own petrol, diesel or LPG-powered vehicles are facing a somewhat problematic situation. However, there is a way out.
- They can pay a fee to receive a sticker entitling them to enter the city centre. However, that only applies to new cars and certain zones.
- Another solution is to use public transport. However, before all the clean transport zones are introduced, the fleet must be replaced with low-emission buses, which means that the service quality will improve.
Owners of diesel and petrol cars can sleep well for a long time yet. The obligation to organise clean transport zones in Polish cities will probably not come into force until 2030 due to the necessity to replace the vehicles in transport companies. That leaves enough time to consider investing in an electric car.
Diesel vehicles ban and entrepreneurs
Good news for local entrepreneurs: the law specifies that they will still have entry to the zone, even if they do not meet the standards. Micro and small business owners will be able to move freely through the zones on business matters. However, this only applies to businesses employing up to 50 people.