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French to zap down emissions

France is to launch a pilot programme for the introduction of Low Emissions Zones. The test phase of the zones, known in French as ZAPA, will involve eight cities: Lyon, Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand, Aix-en-Provence, St Denis, Paris, Nice and Bordeaux.

The idea is to ban the most polluting vehicles from entering certain areas. The Commission is threatening France with legal action as air quality figures for 2010 show many areas continuing to exceed EU air quality standards. The ZAPA idea is for a three-year trial, at which point the government will assess whether the zones have been successful or not. Low Emissions Zones exist in eight European countries, with the total around 160.

  • The use of a Low Emissions Zone in Berlin has contributed to the German capital being named as one of the five cities which have made greatest efforts to cut air pollution. In a ranking compiled by ‘Soot Free’, Berlin joins Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Zurich as the top five European cities, while Düsseldorf, Milan and Rome are at the bottom. The introduction of Berlin’s LEZ in 2008 led to a 40% decrease in soot emissions and a 19% fall in NOx.