Some 203,000 vehicles drive daily through the future low-emission zone. Migue Fernández
Malaga seeks permission to delay introduction of low emission zone to stop polluting vehicles

Malaga seeks permission to delay introduction of low emission zone to stop polluting vehicles

Although the project is 80% complete, the city council has cited problems acquiring cameras, software, and information panels etc as other 147 other cities and large towns scramble to implement the national initiative

Chus Heredia


Wednesday, 20 September 2023

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The traffic restrictions on polluting vehicles in Malaga city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods are not now expected to come into force on 1 January next year. The city hall is going full-steam ahead with the implementation of the compulsory low-emissions zone (Zona de Bajas Emisiones - ZBEs) but has been forced to ask for an extension until 31 December 2024. This is due to a problem with supplies and the short space of time to have all the measures in place.

Across Spain 148 cities and large towns (with a population above 50,000) are obliged to introduce low-emission zones and this has caused a bottleneck in the production of both technological equipment for access control and the necessary civil works. Also, according to the city hall, there has been a delay receiving files from the traffic authority with the environmental categories of vehicles.

Explained: how to obtain a Low Emission Zone (ZBE) sticker for your vehicle in Spain

Three out of four cars will be affected by the new low emission zones in Spanish towns and cities

Municipal sources said that it may not be necessary to utilise all of the requested extension, as the contract for the implementation of the ZBE is already at 80%. They also said there was dismay in the delay by the government in establishing the regulatory framework late in 2022, which contrasts with the municipal Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan and the Alicia Plan, the documents that serve as the basis for the council to implement the traffic restriction zones in the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods. Both texts were approved in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

The contract to implement the low emission zone includes new traffic management systems, intelligent number plate recognition systems, installation of control and access points, cameras, control panels, data integration for traffic authority labels, user information systems, permit management software, payment gateway and other measures.

The application of the new scheme is something that also requires a certain amount of time to carry out tests, inform the public, etc. On Monday 18 September the Councillor for Mobility, Trinidad Hernández, signed the request for an extension. Nevertheless, the department stressed that the company awarded the contract is actively searching for new suppliers to provide the components affected by the delay and is carrying out pre-production tests of the software platform with the aim of speeding everything up when the ZBE comes into affect.

The ZBE was chosen from three different alternatives by the municipal technicians. The final model is the so-called envelope model, which covers 4.3 square kilometres. The aim is to improve health, reduce congestion and reduce noise. There will be 53 control points and 97 cameras controlling access to the two levels of restriction. The area to be protected has an average of 203,000 vehicles per day on working days which make an average journey of three kilometres.

The acquisition and installation of all the devices that make up the control system was awarded in October 2022 to the temporary joint venture of Tecnologías Viales Aplicadas (Teva) and Tevaseñal with a completion period of one year and a budget of 3.1 million euros, financed by European Next Generation funds.

Although the limitations will become stricter as one approaches the city centre, the zone extends to the whole area of La Malagueta and Monte Sancha, the neighbourhood of La Victoria, El Ejido, Capuchinos, Segalerva, La Trinidad, El Perchel and the area around Avenida de Andalucía.

The control points will be installed around the perimeter of Avenida Ingeniero José María Garnica, Avenida de las Américas, Avenida de Andalucía, Hilera, Martínez Maldonado, Pelayo, Avenida de Barcelona, Marqués de Cádiz, Alameda de Capuchinos, Plaza de Olletas, Toquero, Amargura, Ferrándiz, Paseo Salvador Rueda and Calle Rafael Pérez Estrada.

At present, 95 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 702 kilograms of carbon monoxide, 144 kilograms of nitrous oxide gases and 15 grams of microparticles (PM) are emitted daily in this area. The long-term goal of the traffic restriction aims for reductions of between 60 and 96% in these indicators.

On a typical working day, only 177 of the 203,000 vehicles have a Zero label (maximum environmental quality); 2,650 have an Eco label; 60,437 are category C; 71,179 are category B; and some 69,000 do not have a label.

The city centre will have the greatest restrictions. Access will only be allowed to public or private car parks, or to places with special permits such as hospitals. In the outermost area, traffic authority stickers will apply. Disabled persons' vehicles, emergency vehicles, taxis and any other vehicle authorised to provide a service will also have authorisation.

According to the Traffic Law, improper access to a ZBE is a serious offence, and the fine is 200 euros (100 for prompt payment). It does not result in the loss of points on the driver's licence.

Currently, only Madrid, Barcelona, Córdoba, Pontevedra, A Coruña, Seville, Badalona, Rivas-Vaciamadrid, San Cugat del Vallés, Valencia and Sant Joan Despí have low emission zones in operation, according to RACE data.

Malaga is not the first city to request an extension. The same problem has arisen in Granada, Segovia and Castellón.

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