The Barcelona city council has installed the first 36 traffic cameras that will control the city's new Low Emission Zone (in Catalan, Zona de Baixes Emissions, or ZBE), part of a total of around 200 cameras which will eventually be located around the ZBE. With the entry into service of the new zone, on working days from 7am to 8pm, the most polluting classes of vehicles will be banned from the whole of the central city and most of built-up Barcelona - a 95 square kilometre area, including the entire area inside the city's Rondes or ring roads, as shown on the map below. And although the new scheme comes into operation on January 1st, 2020, it is being phased in, and fines will not be charged for the first three months, until April 1st.
City councillor in charge of mobility, Rosa Alarcón, speaking at a press conference this Friday, said that the newly-installed cameras will begin to check and record license plate information for vehicles which are not showing one of the required windscreen labels issued by the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT). Alarcón said that license plates detected that do not have permission to drive in the ZBE will - after April 1st - be fined, but she said the desire was not to charge fines but rather to create a system that works, so that "polluting cars don't pass through the city". As in cities which have already instituted similar schemes, such as London, Madrid and Brussels, the goal, according to the city council, is to reduce pollution and improve the quality of public health and the city's air.
Under the ZBE scheme, which has an explanatory website in English, many older vehicles with higher emission ratings will be prohibited from entering central Barcelona on working days. Owners of Spanish-registered cars can check their eligibility by typing their vehicle's registration number into the website. Eligible vehicles are required to show a sticker, according to the emission class, available from post offices. Foreign-registered vehicles can also obtain eligibility if they meet the pollution criteria, and for other visiting vehicles, exemptions from the scheme for up to 10 days a year can be obtained; there are also a series of other exemptions.
The green area on the map is Barcelona's Low Emission Zone: most of Barcelona City, as well as part or all of the municipalities of l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Cornellà de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat and Sant Adrià de Besòs.
The yellow areas shown on the map are parts of Barcelona City that are specifically excluded from the scheme, while yellow lines on the map indicate the roads that are excluded from the scheme: basically the city's ring road system (the uptown Ronda de Dalt motorway, and the Ronda Litoral motorway close to the coast), and the motorway approaches to the city, until they cross the Rondes. Higher resolution maps of the excluded parts of Barcelona City are here.
In general, the vehicles banned from entry into the ZBE in 2020 will be cars and motorcycles as follows: standard petrol-driven cars (M1 vehicle category) with an emission rating below Euro 3 (in general, pre-2000 license plates) and standard M1 diesel cars with a rating below Euro 4 (pre-2005 or 2006 license plates); motorcycles and mopeds (vehicle category L) with ratings below Euro 3 (pre-2003 license plates). Vans, buses and lorries have a one year moratorium, until the start of 2021, when they are brought into the scheme.
Although the ZBE comes into force on January 1st, until April 1st there will be no fines, only explanatory notes about the scheme which will be sent to those who repeatedly violate the rules. After April 1st, non-compliance with the ZBE regulations will result in penalties of 100, 200 and 500 euros - depending on the type of vehicle, if the violation has occurred during a pollution episode, and whether it is a repeat offence.