Authorities set 18-month deadline to comply with EU pollution limits in Barcelona
Government and local administrations to raise pace of implementing air quality improvement measures after EU takes Spain to court
The government and the Barcelona city and metropolitan authorities have set an 18-month deadline to comply with the European Union's air pollution limits.
At a meeting on Monday, the different administrations agreed to increase the pace of implementing the measures aimed at reducing pollution in the city and its surroundings.
The agreement comes after the EU took the Spanish authorities to the European Court of Justice over pollution in Barcelona, the nearby Baix Llobregat-Vallès areas, and Madrid.
The territory and sustainability minister, Damià Calvet, said the court will take 18 months to reach a verdict, during which time the authorities aim to bring Barcelona into compliance.
Measures to reduce pollution
Among the measures discussed was implementing low emission zones in the city's metro area, and increasing the pace of work on bus and high-occupancy vehicle lanes.
Low emission zones will come into effect on January 1 to restrict access of more polluting vehicle into the city, taking some 125,000 vehicles out of circulation.
High-occupancy vehicle lanes, reserved exclusively for buses and vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers, are being built on the B-23 and C-245 main roads.
The authorities are also considering introducing a congestion charge for Barcelona, if the low emission zones do not succeed in reducing air pollution in and around the city.
However, there was disagreement about how to handle the airport and the port, with the government rejecting the city council's arguments that the facilities must stop growing.