UK drivers could face fines of almost £1,500 if they ignore low emission zones on holiday

British tourists driving on the continent this summer could face heavy fines for failing to comply with low-emission zone rules.

Some 320 European urban regions now restrict older vehicles and Europe’s 10 most popular tourist cities block many petrol and diesel vehicles, according to recent research from Clean Cities Campaign.

Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of road policy, told me: “As in parts of the UK, low emission zones are springing up across Europe with the aim of improving air quality and reducing car use in Europe. certain areas.

“Drivers should check if any of their destinations have restrictions and what measures they need to take before heading abroad.

“Some schemes require a decal to be purchased and affixed to the car, while others take a ‘pay on the day’ approach.”

The AA uses Urban Access Regulations in Europe (urbanaccessregulations.eu) as a reference.

This portal can be used by searching for a specific country or city or by using the “route planner” for road trips around Europe.

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France is among the countries that require drivers to display a sticker on their vehicle to comply with the scheme.

Crit’Air stickers can be ordered online through certificate-air.gouv.fr and will be shipped to the owner of the vehicle for €3.11, plus €1.40 postage, so drivers should take delivery times into account before traveling to France.

Drivers who do not display the French Crit’Air sticker on the windscreen when driving in French LEZs could face an on-the-spot fine of €135 (£115). The stickers identify a vehicle’s air pollutant emissions and there are six categories in the Crit’Air vignette system, ranging from green to dark grey.

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In Spain, failure to comply with the LEZ rules could also result in fines of between €200 (£170) and €1,800 (£1,532) in Barcelona, ​​according to the AA, and €45 (£38) in Madrid. .

High penalties are also found in Brussels, where failure to meet the LEZ access criteria can result in a fine of €350 (£305).

Low emission zones in France, Spain and Germany

France

France has two permanent low emission zones in Paris: the Greater Paris ZCR and the Central Paris ZCR, also known as the Paris City ZCR, as well as Grenoble and Strasbourg.

There is also a longer list of temporary low emission emergency zones that are implemented during certain conditions.

Certain vehicles may be denied entry to French LEZs based on the sticker displayed on the windshield, either all the time or on certain days when air pollution levels are dangerously high. Not all vehicles are eligible, including cars registered before January 1997 and motorcycles and scooters registered before June 2000.

Spain

Madrid and Barcelona have permanent low-emission zones and Madrid only allows zero-emission vehicles and residents access to the city center.

San Cugat del Valles and San Juan Despi also had low emission zones.

Germany

Germany has a national framework for low emission zones that affects all motor vehicles except motorcycles.

Barbara Stoll, director of the Clean Cities Campaign, said Yo: “It is becoming more and more difficult to drive older and generally more polluting vehicles while on holiday in Europe.

“Our research shows that there has been a major increase in the number of clean air zones since 2019, especially in Italy, and that number is set to grow.

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“LEZs are one of our best tools against air pollution and are helping thousands of people live healthier lives. Britons heading to the continent had better switch to cleaner alternatives or check that their vehicles are compliant.”

Italy has 172 LEZs, more than any other European country, according to the Clean Cities Campaign report. Germany has the second most with 78, followed by the UK (17), the Netherlands (14), and France and Sweden, which have eight.

The number of LEZs is expected to rise by 58 per cent to 507 by 2025, according to the Clean Cities Campaign, with the strongest growth in Spain, the country that receives the most UK travelers each year.

Some 146 new LEZs will be operational in Spain by 2024 and France will have an additional 34 new LEZs by 2025. The 10 most popular tourist cities, according to the Clean Cities Campaign Report, are London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Hamburg, Amsterdam , Rome, Madrid and Vienna.

The emission requirements may be added to a separate list of post-Brexit rules that UK drivers must comply with when driving in Europe.

These include displaying a UK sticker and/or UK identifier on the back of your car or number plate, carrying a UK driving license (the rules on the paper and photo card versions differ between countries), as well as a registration book (V5C) showing the driver’s last UK address and insurance certificate.

European countries with low emission zones*

Italy: 172
Germany: 78
Netherlands: 14
France: 8
Sweden: 8
Austria: 6
Spain: 3
Denmark: 4
Norway: 3
Belgium: 3
Portugal: 1
Greece: 1
Czech Republic: 1

*Based on the Clean Cities Campaign Report