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Future French environmental zones

In France, cities, municipalities, departments and regions have been violating the European Commission’s obligations and requirements on the Air Quality Directive since 2010.
Despite several warnings from the EU, the limit values for nitrogen dioxide have still not been met by 2019. For this reason, France was condemned by the ECJ on 24.10.2019 to quickly improve the air quality and thus not only to tighten the rules of existing environmental zones but also to introduce many new environmental zones.

In order to comply with the legal requirements of the EU, the government introduced a new Mobility Act on 26.11.2018, in which the existing and newly established permanent environmental zones are now referred to as ZFE Zones à faibles émissions, which corresponds to the English term LEZ Low Emission Zones.
According to the law, cities, metropolises and municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants or with an Air Protection Plan (PPA=Plan de Protection de l’Atmosphère) must have established permanent or temporary environmental zones on their territory by the end of 2020 in order to achieve the specified values for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

In addition, in order to improve the observance and implementation of planned driving bans, controls with intelligent camera systems are being introduced, such as those being tested in Paris since 2019 and planned by the city of Strasbourg.

The following French cities, municipalities, departments and regions plan to expand or introduce new permanent and temporary environmental zones by the end of 2020 and also in 2021.

City/Municipality/Region Current information 28.03.2020
Métropole Aix-Marseille Provence Since June 2019, Marseille has introduced a ZPA zone. The plans for a permanent zone (ZFE) have now been finalized: map and timetable have been announced. The zone is going to activated without penalty from July 2021 and with penalty from autumn 2021. The rules for affected vehicles and anti-pollution stickers have not yet been finally decided. The decree is expected in September 2020.
Avignon On 25.01.2017, a study on the establishment of a temporary ZPA environmental zone was commissioned. This zone should be limited to the city centre and activated in case of high air pollution.
Bordeaux The city of Bordeaux is planning to set up an environmental zone in its city centre. A temporary ZPA is planned, which can be activated during an air pollution peak. In addition, a permanently established low emission zone (ZFE) is planned, which in the long term will also include a diesel phase-out by the end of 2026.
Clermont Auvergne Métropole Currently no further information available
Dijon After the local elections, the city plans to commission a study for the establishment of an environmental zone.
Fort-de-France Currently no further information available
Grenoble-Alpes Métropole Scheduled driving bans: 01.07.2020 Crit'Air 4 ban, 01.07.2022 anti-pollution sticker 3 ban, 01.07.2025 anti-pollution sticker 2 ban.
Lille Metropole On 28.06.2019, the Council of the Metropolis approved the plan to introduce a ZFE zone. In Autumn 2020, after prescribed consultations with the affected parties, a corresponding decree will be issued. The ZFE zone will enter into force in individual steps: from 2022, M1 and N1, 2, 3 vehicle types that do not have a vignette or only have vignettes 5 and 4 will be excluded from traffic at first. The zone will be valid 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Grand Lyon The introduction of a ZFE zone was decided on 28.01.2019. From 01.01.2020, N1, N2 and N3 trucks without a Crit’Air vignette, as well as with Crit’Air vignettes 5 and 4, are not allowed to enter the zone.
Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole Currently no further information available
Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur Currently no further information available
Nancy After a public consultation of the city of Nancy for a temporary ZPA zone, the driving bans are to be activated in the first half of 2020. In the event of an air pollution peak, the prefect can then exclude the vehicles without anti-pollution stickers 4 and 5 from traffic.
Métropole du Grand-Paris In the area of the Métropole Paris, the tightening of the rules of the existing Grand Paris ZFE environmental zone has already been scheduled. From 01.01.2021 Crit’Air vignette 4 will be banned, so that the same rules apply to the ZFE/ZCR zones of the city of Paris
Paris Stadt The tightening of the rules of the existing ZCR zone has been scheduled by the city of Paris. Therefore, from 01.07.2021, the ZFE/ZCR zones of Paris will be merged with the surrounding zone of the Métropole Paris
Pays de la Loire / Région After the long-lasting ozone pollution in the region in the summer of 2019, the prefecture issued a press release urging residents to obtain a Crit’Air vignette as quickly as possible, as driving bans could be imposed at any time. More details about the departments, regions and municipalities in the Pays de la Loire region that will be affected in the future and will get a temporary ZPA environmental zone in 2020 are currently not known.
Grand Reims The planned environmental zone should only affect trucks and small vans (N1-2-3). The final plan including the borders of the zone should be published from April and agreed in December 2020.
Métropole Rouen Normandie From 01.01.2021 a ZFE is to be introduced in the city centre. As a first step, vehicles of the types N1, N2 and N3 will be affected. Between 2021 and 2025, the area of the low emission zone will be expanded and other vehicle categories will be restricted.
Saint-Etienne Métropole By the end of the year, a new ZFE/ZCR zone will be introduced in the metropolis of Saint-Etienne, where trucks registered before 2001 (N2, N3) will not be allowed to enter. The driving ban will apply permanently 24 hours a day. The city is also planning a zone for 2021 that will affect all vehicle categories. The planned borders are the A72 to the north, the N88 to the east and the D201 to the west.
Eurométropole de Strasbourg From 01.01.2021, vehicles without an anti-pollution sticker will be excluded from traffic in the ZFE/ZCR zone and the rules will be tightened each year. This plan means that from 2025 only the latest petrol, electric and hybrid vehicles will be allowed to drive. For the other municipalities around Strasbourg, which also belong to the Eurométropole Strasbourg, the diesel phase-out is to be staggered until 2030.
Métropole de Toulon Provence Méditerranée Currently no further information available
Toulouse Métropole So far, three different scenarios regarding the planned ZFE/ZCR environmental zones have been published. The final rules and the extent of the zone will be decided in May 2020 and will come into force in 2020.

The legal framework for French environmental zones

In 2016, the French government introduced the anti-pollution sticker in order to comply with the requirements of the European regulations on air quality (EU Directive 2008/50/CE) and better limit the recurring air pollution peaks in the country. Thanks to the introduction of the vignette, driving bans have become legally permissible. To this purpose, two different legal frameworks have been defined and adopted in France.

On the one hand, the Energy Transition and Green Growth Act (Loi de transition énergétique: LTE) and the ZCR Decree of 28.06.2016, which has so far enabled the French government to introduce permanent environmental zones (ZCR).

On the other hand, according to the Ministerial Order of 07.04.2016, new prefectural measures can also enter into force in each department in the event of an air pollution peak. The prefect then either activates the measures throughout the department or limits them to a specific area within the department (ZPAd) or to an area within a metropole or city (ZPAd).

ZFE Zones à faibles émissions
The new Mobility Act, which was introduced by the government on 26.11.2018, defines the new legal framework for environmental zones, now referred to as “Low Emission Zones”. The law came into force on 27.12.2019.

In this context, the permanent ZCR environmental zones in France will be renamed ZFE zones (Zones à faibles émissions). Communities, metropolitan areas and municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants or an Air Protection Plan (PPA=Plan de Protection de l’Atmosphère), from the entry into force of this Act shall consider the establishment of a low emission environmental zone (ZFE) on their territory.

These zones can therefore cover the whole city or some parts of the respective city. The environmental zone is then determined by a local law after an environmental study and the approval of the local authorities.

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