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Ghent decides not to extend low-emissions zone

© Christian Lue via Unsplash

Ghent city council has decided not to extend its low-emissions zone (LEZ) to other parts of the city, after receiving advice the environmental gains would be less than expected.

Last year the city introduced its LEZ to keep the most polluting vehicles out of the city centre. At the time, the council announced the intention to commission a report on the proposal to extend the LEZ beyond the city centre.

That report, by Leuven-based consultancy Transport & Mobility, has now been provided and reveals that the environmental gains from such a move do not justify the complaints the city has received about the proposed measure.

The best of the expected benefits concerns emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and that benefit would be limited in time to three years.

Elsewhere, the study points out that an extension of the LEZ would only make sense if the inner ring road were to be included, but that would present a logistical nightmare, as technically vehicles would be forbidden to enter the city which were not in the city at that point.

However, to replace the extended LEZ, the city has created an ‘air quality fund’ of €4.5 million to support new measures during the period 2022-2024.

Among the measures that limited fund would cover is a premium for any resident of the city on low income who decides to scrap a car that would be above the LEZ limits. That would allow less affluent residents to make the transition to a less-polluting vehicle.

A similar premium exists for owners of a polluting motor-cycle, which will be banned from the zone from January 2023.

Under the new plan, five densely built-up areas around the current LEZ will become ‘oxygen districts’, with additional investments to reduce the number of polluting vehicles and ‘facilitate partial solutions’.