GET IT ALL – Low Emission Zones: Can you still drive around town tomorrow?

Already in place, but without verbalization, or in the process of being deployed, ZFEs (low emission zones) will eventually concern all French agglomerations of more than 150,000 inhabitants. A “social time bomb” that the association 40 million motorists wants to defuse.

An “educational” traffic ban which risks turning into a PV machine gun in the coming months: this is what some motorists fear in the face of the generalization of ZFEs. These “Low Emission Zones” make it possible to restrict the circulation of certain vehicles, considered the most polluting, according to their Crit’Air sticker. A vignette to be purchased once per vehicle for 3.70 euros on the official website of the Ministry of Ecology (beware of the many fraudulent sites).

However, for the moment, no sanction applies to individuals in areas where such a system has been in place, even for several years, such as Greater Paris, Greater Lyon or Grenoble… but for how much? time yet? By 2025, all agglomerations of more than 150,000 inhabitants must at least have published a schedule of planned bans. The first verbalizations are expected for the end of the year or the beginning of 2023, with in particular plate-reading radars.

A situation that the association 40 million motorists describes as a “social time bomb” in a press release released on Monday, September 26. “We are in the process of organizing a scheduled obsolescence date on the automobile”, summarizes this Tuesday on BFMTV Fabrice Godefroy, mobility and environment expert within 40 Million Motorists. The association is considering various actions against this regulation.

• What recourse against EPZs?

In particular, the 40 million motorists association has chosen to support a bill tabled by the Rassemblement National deputy for the 2nd district of the Marne, Anne-Sophie Frigout, which aims, quite simply, to “remove the principle of Zones à Low Emissions”.

“In the explanatory memorandum worked in collaboration with the association, the deputy insists on the impossibility today of prohibiting almost half of the French people from circulating”, continues the press release.

Main argument: “the incomprehension of millions of French people who properly maintain their cars, successfully passing the mandatory technical anti-pollution control but who are forbidden access to metropolises of more than 150,000 inhabitants”.

The association also announces that it supports the appeal to the Administrative Court by one of its members who is attacking the Crit’Air sticker and its vehicle classification system in force since 2015 and on which the ZFE calendar is based.

The Crit’Air system distinguishes vehicles according to their age and engine – MTE

A classification deemed unfit to determine the level of pollution of a vehicle, taking into account only an argument of seniority. The vehicle of this member of 40 million motorists, “classified Crit’Air 2 indeed meets the polluting emission obligations imposed by the euro standard giving right to the Crit’Air 1 sticker”, explains the association, whose the lawyers will support this action.

Finally, trips are planned throughout France to raise awareness on this subject, in Reims on October 7, Rouen on October 21, Montpellier on November 4 and Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne on November 18 and 19.

• Which agglomerations are affected by EPZs?

France already has around ten ZFEs, a consequence of the mobility orientation law (or LOM) passed at the end of 2019. Some were created several years ago, such as those of Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, the Métropole du Grand- Paris, or Greater Lyon Métropole. And other more recent ones, such as that of the Métropole d’Aix-Marseille-Provence or Toulouse Métropole.

The Climate and Resilience Lawvoted in 2021, clearly generalized the principle of ZFEs: by December 31, 2024, all agglomerations of more than 150,000 inhabitants must have implemented what now bears the official name of “ZFE-m”, for “Zones with low mobility emissions”.

If no calendar is available in your area, you should still expect a ban that will target at least Crit’Air 5 in 2023, Crit’Air 4 in 2024 and Crit’Air 3 in 2025, which corresponds to the trajectory provided for by the Climate Law.

It should be noted that the ZFEs also set up dedicated aid for changing vehicles. Subsidies that can be combined with the devices put in place at the national level such as the ecological bonus and the conversion bonus.

• Which vehicles are prohibited from circulating?

If we focus on individuals and take the example of the most “advanced” metropolis currently in its calendar, that of Greater Paris, here is the current table:

Unclassified private vehicles (registered before 1997), Crit’Air 5 (Diesel before 2001) and Crit’Air 4 (Diesel before 2006) are prohibited from driving in the area bounded by the A86 (not included) on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (for buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles the ban also applies on weekends). We are still talking about a “permanent” traffic ban, as opposed to one-off bans, decided during pollution peaks, with the differentiated traffic system (according to the Crit’air sticker number, which replaced the traffic system alternating, according to even or odd plate number).

Next important steps for the metropolis of Greater Paris: the ban on Cit’Air 3 (petrol from before 2006 and Diesel from before 2011), postponed to July 2023 and, above all, that of Crit’Air 2 which will result in the driving ban for all diesel vehicles, even the most recent, as well as petrol models (including hybrids) from before 2011) scheduled for 2024. That is tomorrow on the scale of vehicle ownership.

The calendar published on July 1, 2022 – ZFE Grand Paris

In other metropolises, such as Lyon, it should be noted that the driving ban is “really” permanent, and therefore not limited to weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as in Paris. The agglomeration has also just implemented the first phase of its system aimed at individuals, so far only professionals have been targeted. Since September 1, an “educational” ban has targeted vehicles carrying the Crit’Air 5 sticker and unclassified vehicles. Elected officials must also vote this week to extend the ZFE to new municipalities. Vehicles will be punishable from January 1, 2023, provides for the metropolis of Greater Lyon (see below “what penalties?”)

Another example in Toulouse, where so far only vans, vans and heavy goods vehicles are affected by traffic restrictions in the agglomeration, but which is preparing to suddenly ban on January 1, 2023 private vehicles carrying vignettes Cirt’Air 4, 5 and unclassified.

To realize the number of vehicles potentially concerned, the interactive table below shows the workforce by region (by default, the data is presented at national level) with details by Crit’Air sticker (AAA Data of October 2021).

• What sanctions?

This is the whole current problem: some calendars already apply… but without verbalization and without real awareness of the general public in a context of imminent “real” implementation.

In Paris, the implementation of video-verbalization, presented as a prerequisite for enforcing the law, is constantly postponed. It would allow offenders to be penalized directly thanks to their license plate, which gives an equivalent to a Crit’Air sticker.

Officially, there is a third class fine for private vehicles driving with an unauthorized sticker, i.e. a fixed fine of 68 euros. “The planned offenses may result in the immobilization of the vehicle”, specifies the site of the city of Paris.

In Lyon, after the 4-month educational phase, the first sanctions for Crit’Air 4, 5 and unclassified are scheduled for January 1, 2023. “The environmentalists have announced the deployment of around sixty radars to enforce their device”, specifies an article from Lyon Capitale published this Monday, September 26.

You can also be fined 68 euros if you do not have the Crit’Air sticker on your windshield during an inspection or if the sticker does not correspond to your vehicle.

• What exemptions?

There are, however, many exceptions. First of all at the national level, with “priority vehicles of general interest” (police, gendarmerie, customs, firefighters, ambulances, transport of detainees…), “vehicles of general interest benefiting from ease of passage” (for electricity and gas infrastructure management companies, SNCF, transport of Banque de France funds, transport of blood products and human organs), but also vehicles of the Ministry of Defence, vehicles for disabled people ( inclusion mobility card) or public transport buses.

But there are also so-called “local” exemptions, recalls the metropolis of Grand Paris: collection vehicles, market supply vehicles, those of moving professionals, tank or refrigerated vehicles, those authorized for filming.

In other cities, such as Toulouse, derogations may also apply to vehicles of solidarity companies, charities or even food producers who supply markets and shops.

No action to take, at least as long as the video verbalization is not in place: all you need is proof according to your category concerned by an exemption, to be presented in the event of an inspection.

Top Articles