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Town centres shut for polluting cars

Low-emission vehicles may need green stickers as government backs new Périphérique speed limit

MOTORISTS will bear the brunt of government plans to cut air pollution as ministers look at reducing the speed limit on the Paris Périphérique to 70kph and limiting town centre access to all but the least polluting vehicles at certain times.

The moves are part of a 38-point plan to head off a European Commission threat to take France to the European Court of Justice for not cutting pollution that is responsible for many thousands of early deaths a year.

In Paris, the government has agreed to mairie plans to cut the Périphérique speed limit to 70kph from 80kph “before summer” to cut pollution, noise and accidents. It has rejected moves for inner-city péages to cut city centre traffic.

Across France, part of the plans could see the return of the pastille verte green sticker that showed low-pollution vehicles or those in covoiturage or car-sharing schemes.

Ecology Ministry officials had told Le Parisien that the green stickers could be relaunched as mairies had asked for reliable and easy ways to identify low-pollution or car-share vehicles if they allowed them exclusive use of certain lanes on roads or parking places in town.

Plans put to the interministerial committee on air quality had suggested that only low-pollution vehicles would be allowed to run if the pollution risk was high. The government wants more car-sharing schemes and for low-pollution vehicles to get easier access to town centres and parking spaces. It has also called for more investment in public transport, especially in high-pollution periods.

It wants to target the “fine particulates” emitted by diesel vehicles and industry which affect 60% of people in France and are blamed for 42,000 early deaths a year.

However, financial restrictions have halted plans to cut the six million diesel vehicles which are blamed for 25% of fine particulate pollution. That means no new prime à la casse scrappage programme but will, instead, offer aid for modest-income households to upgrade to low-pollution vehicles. A tougher contrôle technique will also be brought in.

Industry will not escape as Ecology Minister Delphine Batho is to reduce new emission levels while at the same time looking at new pollution-cutting inserts to be mandatory in household chimneys.

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