New air pollution protocol for Madrid
The new regulation will ban driving and parking in the controlled parking zone (SER area) for vehicles classified as the most polluting as per the Spanish Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) ratings. This includes motorcycles for the first time.
Madrid City Council continues to impose tighter restrictions on access to the city centre during high pollution episodes and has introduced a barometer that is fairer than before to monitor who can drive their vehicle inside the M-30 ring road. Until now, only speed restrictions were imposed (maximum of 70 kilometres an hour) and were applicable for all internal combustion engine cars.
When air quality fell below a certain level, access and parking were restricted for all conventional cars (hybrids and electric cars being exempt), with city centre access for vehicles controlled according to their registration number (odd or even). Now, instead of using this arbitrary distinction, the dirtiest cars will be subject to the greater restrictions.
The new access regulations are based on the DGT environmental ratings – request a sticker for your vehicle if you have not already done so – classifying vehicles according to their emissions. Motorcycles are also included for the first time. Yes, this means there will no longer be free reign for motorcycles in Madrid during periods of high pollution: the most polluting vehicles must also remain outside the central district and at times may not be able to drive anywhere in the city.
The extent of access, circulation and parking restrictions will depend on the severity of each pollution episode-from least to most restrictive- in terms of the concentration of nitrogen oxide particles in the atmosphere. For the first time, restrictions may be imposed across the entire city centre.
The new protocol also includes an additional scenario prior to the Alert scenario (which now moves to fifth position) to stagger measures before this latter and worrying pollution episode is reached. The regulation is expected to enter into force after the summer.
Arises one day after the pre-alert level (180 microgrammes per cubic metres of air for two consecutive hours) is reached. In this first scenario, public notices are issued, speed on the M-30 is limited to 70 kilometres an hour and measures are taken to encourage the use of public transport.
The 70 km/h speed limit is imposed from 6 o’clock in the morning the day it enters into force and is lifted when the pollution episode comes to an end.
All vehicles, regardless of their DGT rating, may use the M-30, access the central district and park in the regulated parking area. The speed limit must be respected at all times.
Pollution has exceeded the pre-alert level for two days or has reached the alert level (200 microgrammes per cubic metre of air for two consecutive hours).
Apart from the public information measures and speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour on the M-30, parking is restricted within the central district.
Only residents and vehicles certified as having zero emissions and, for the first time, as ECO vehicles, can park in the centre. Commercial and industrial vehicles with a controlled parking permit are also granted access.
Vehicles without an environmental sticker from the Spanish Directorate General for Traffic, including motorcycles, are banned from the central district and the M-30. In the case of the central district, this would cut journeys by 13.4% and would reduce NO2 emissions by 6%.
Scenario 3 arises when pollution is equal to or exceeds 200 microgrammes per cubic metre of air for two consecutive hours for more than two days, or reaches 180 microgrammes for three consecutive days.
In this case, restrictions are imposed on vehicle access to the central district. The ban on driving vehicles without an environmental label, including motorcycles, is extended across the whole city. This would result in a 17.7% reduction in traffic across the entire city and a decrease of over 21% in atmospheric emissions. The protocol in force until now restricted access for vehicles with odd or even registration numbers but only inside the M-30. The criterion of using registration numbers is now replaced by the criterion of most polluting vehicles.
Emission-free certified vehicles, such as electric cars, can circulate and park freely. The remaining cars may not use the SER area.
Hybrid and gas vehicles can circulate. Commercial and industrial vehicles with a controlled parking permit are also granted access.
Moreover, it is recommended that diesel and petrol taxis are not used and remain at a taxi rank.
Scenario 4 occurs when pollution is equal to or exceeds 200 microgrammes per cubic metre of air for two consecutive hours over four days.
Parking in the SER area is limited to ZERO EMISSION and ECO vehicles, while vehicles without an environmental sticker, including motorcycles, are prohibited from driving in the whole city.
On and inside the M-30, restrictions also extend to cars with a B rating, which account for 47% to 49% of journeys in these areas. As a whole, the latter two measures would slash emissions by more than 33%.
The measures for scenario 5 will be imposed if the alert level is reached (400 microgrammes per cubic metre of air for three consecutive hours), as stipulated by the European Union. This level has never been seen in Madrid.
In this case, apart from the prior measures, driving would be prohibited in the whole city for vehicles without a DGT sticker and those with a B and C rating. This prohibition would drive down emissions by over 64%.