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‘Eco-Pass’ begins as Milan fights city pollution

Milan has become the latest European metropolis to introduce a city charge to reduce pollution and congestion levels, as the idea of ‘low emissions zones’ gains in popularity.

Since the start of the year, the Italian city has required drivers using the city centre to have an ‘Eco-Pass’, a €10 per day charge aimed at taking Milan away from the top of the league table of Europe’s most polluted cities.

The system survived the trauma of the city council’s website crashing on the eve of the launch. As the site offers on-line payment of the pollution charge, there were few outlets selling the pass, but everything was up and running by the time schools and businesses went back after the Christmas and New Year break.

As the aim of the charge is to reduce pollution levels, it is differentiated according to emissions of pollutants, with the result that most new cars are exempt.

The mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti says the target is a 10% reduction in pollution and 30% reduction in traffic by the end of the year.

In theory, the pollution charge is a trial for one year, but Moratti is sufficiently confident of its success that she is saying other cities are looking to apply Milan’s model to their own urban centres.