After Antwerp, Brussels has now recently also followed suit with a low-emissions zone with limited access available for ‘the most polluting’ vehicles. Even more Belgian cities have come up with similar plans.
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A low-emissions zone, or LEZ for short, is delimited by traffic signs and imposes a number of conditions on vehicles that are permitted entry. These are primarily related to the car emissions standard, which will only become stricter in the coming years. Cameras with registration plate recognition record the vehicle entering and check whether it satisfies the criteria based on the DIV data (vehicle registration agency). Foreign drivers (with the exception of Dutch drivers) are required to register to gain access to the LEZ. As of 1 February 2017 Antwerp is the first Belgian city to delimit such a zone. However, it won’t stop there.
1 January 2018 signals the start of the second - and also the largest - Belgian LEZ, that is to say in all nineteen municipalities of the Brussels Region. Only the Brussels Ring-Road and a few access roads to transit car parks still fall outside the Brussels LEZ. The city is able to decide which cars will be permitted entry. Should you be found in violation of the conditions, then you will be fined for a sum that can amount to up to EUR 350 in the event of repeat offences. Just as the practice is in Antwerp, there will be (as of the summer of 2018) a paid day pass available for EUR 35 that allows for a polluting car to enter (only a few times a year) into the LEZ.
Mechelen and Willebroek
In the meantime, a number of other cities have announced that they also wish to implement low-emissions zones. Mechelen and Willebroek are seeking to implement this as from the summer of 2018. How exactly this is to be done has not been established yet, but to a large extent it will be adjusted to the system used by Antwerp.
Ghent also seeks to have an environmental zone in place by 2020. It has already announced this intention in public so that individuals and companies are able to foresee at what time they will make a new car purchase. This is best done by checking which CO2 emissions standard the car you are interested in buying satisfies. For instance, with a contemporary Euro 6 diesel you won’t need to buy a new car until at least 2025. The Ghent environmental zone will be combined with the current 30 zone in the city centre, the area falling within Ghent’s ring-road. The ring-road itself, axis Nieuwewandeling - Blaisantvest and the arterial roads entering and exiting the Ghent South parking fall outside of this zone.
In Wallonia as of 2020
To date there are still no low-emissions zones in Wallonia, given that the legal framework is not as of yet entirely ready. The Walloon government does, however, have a draft proposal ready that establishes the guidelines. Here too, the first low-emissions zones should also be in place by 2020, starting with the city centre of Liege. In contrast with Flanders and Brussels, the Walloon Region will use stickers attached to the windscreen instead of working with registration plate recognition cameras. It is likely that an environmental zone will be implemented in Charleroi as well.