In a bid to reduce air pollution and improve public health, Barcelona has begun restricting entry of older vehicles into the city for most of the day on weekdays. The city has defined a 95 square km-wide low emissions zone within its ring roads (ZBE Rondes de Barcelona) and municipalities adjacent to these, and began implementing the traffic restrictions in these areas on January 1.

Vehicles impacted by the new measures include all pre-Euro 3 standard petrol and pre-Euro 4 standard diesel cars registered in the country before 2000, as well as pre-Euro 3 motorcycles and mopeds registered before 2003.

These vehicles will be banned from most city streets on weekdays between 7 am and 8 pm, and those who violate the rule stand to face a fine of at least €100 (RM459). However, enforcement won’t begin straight away – a three-month grace period is being provided, in which offenders will not be fined but notified.

All banned vehicles will be allowed to enter the city within the restricted timeframe 10 times a year. Meanwhile, owners of non-compliant vehicles registered outside of Spain will have to request permission from city hall to drive in the city during the enforcement period.

According to news reports, the move – which is expected to lead to a 15% cut in nitrogen dioxide emissions -is expected to affect around 50,000 vehicles a day. Starting from next year, vans, lorries and buses without an environmental label will also be banned.

Barcelona joins Madrid in the move to improve its air quality. Last year, the latter began a policy of restricting driving in the old city centre only to people who live there, with residents from outside the area only being able to drive into the area if they use electric or low-emission vehicles.