Traffic causes 50 per cent of local soot and nitrogen dioxide emissions, which endanger our health. To reduce the health impact of polluting traffic at a local level, many towns and cities are therefore setting up a low emission zone (LEZ), which the most polluting vehicles are not allowed to enter seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Which towns and cities have already introduced an LEZ, and which are planning to do so? In Belgium, this is decided at a regional level.
In Flanders, every town, city or municipality decides where, and when, a low emission zone will be introduced. Since February 2017, the city of Antwerp has specific access rules, and other Flemish towns and cities are also planning LEZs. Such a zone is being introduced in Ghent next year, and from 2021 (at the earliest) the most polluting vehicles will no longer be welcome in Mechelen or Willebroek.
What are those rules?
Two characteristics determine whether a vehicle can enter the low emission zone:
The category of the vehicle:
The access rules not only apply to passenger vehicles, but also vans, buses, camper vans and lorries that run on diesel, petrol or LPG. Vehicles that are always allowed: mopeds and scooters, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids with CO2 emissions no higher than 50 grams per kilometre, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The Euro standard of the vehicle:
Vehicles with low Euro standards cannot enter the low emission zones. In this overview you can check if your vehicle has the right Euro standard. If you do not know which Euro standard it has, you can figure it out using the date the vehicle was first registered.
A town or municipality can decide on its own if a not-permitted vehicle can still enter the LEZ if it is registered or the owner pays for access. These conditions will become stricter in 2020 and stricter still in 2025.
In all nineteen municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region, a low emission zone has been installed since 1 January 2018. Only the Brussels Ring Road and certain access roads are excluded.
What are the rules?
The LEZ in Brussels only applies to passenger vehicles, vans lighter than 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches. You can use this online test to see if your car is allowed enter the Brussels LEZ.
If your vehicle is not allowed to enter the low emission zone, you can buy a day pass at 35 euros. You can buy up to eight day passes a year. Foreign vehicles can only enter the LEZ after registration, and a number of exceptions can also be requested.
From 1 January 2020, towns and municipalities in Wallonia can also introduce LEZs, but Wallonia wants to go much further in the near future:
By 2023, all old diesel and petrol cars will be systematically banned in the entire region.
By 2026, only cars with at least a Euro 5 standard (cars built since 2009) can be driven in Wallonia.
From 1 January 2030, your car must meet at least the Euro 6d-Temp standard.
The Walloon Region has developed an online test for drivers. With this you can work out if your car is still welcome in Wallonia and, if so, until when. The following vehicles are certainly allowed: mopeds and scooters, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids with CO2 emissions no higher than 50 grams per kilometre, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
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