The appeals filed by ten groups against the Barcelona Low Emissions Zone have been successful and the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has just announced the nullity of the ordinance that regulates this ZBE. The next step is to wait for the sentence to be final, something that could happen in a month if the Barcelona City Council does not appeal to the Supreme Court. Only when the sentence is final will the ordinance cease to be in force and, therefore, drivers who fail to comply with the restrictions will no longer be punished. At the moment the ZBE of Barcelona is not suspended and the City Council will continue to sanction.
Among the groups that presented resources are the Platform for People Affected by Traffic Restrictions, the Association of Large Families of Catalonia, the Provincial Association of Automobile Repair and Maintenance Workshops or the Catalan Business Federation of Passenger Transport. The Barcelona City Council can lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court against this resolution, in which case the procedure would take longer until a ruling is made on the matter.
Why has the TSJC annulled this Barcelona ZBE? “Due to the lack of reports that support some restrictions, excess of the geographical scope of implementation and excessive restriction of the type of vehicles affected, among other reasons,” they explain. The Court’s ruling does not question the fact that the European Union has denounced air quality and admits that Barcelona City Council must act to solve it, but it does qualify that these measures to reduce pollution must be proportionate.
No restrictions, what are the reasons?
Several reasons have led the judges to not consider these restrictions valid, which fundamentally affect vehicles without an environmental label (also known as an A label), which are those with a gasoline engine registered before the year 2000 or diesel. registered before 2006.
• The judges argue that a sufficient analysis of the alternatives is not carried out, nor of the economic, social and market and competition consequences produced by the measures, nor are the costs and benefits that the draft provision implies sufficiently evaluated by its recipients. as well as administrative charges.
• They also say that there are “substantial flaws in the preparation of the standard”, especially because of the reports and data that have been used because they are not up to date. For example, they specify that there is no data that “allows to determine the number of affected vehicles in their different categories”, nor is “the recipients of a professional or economic activity quantified”.
• Likewise, the data on polluting emissions that are used are imprecise. On the one hand, the report is based on emissions in 2013, although the regulations were drawn up in 2018. The data, therefore, is outdated and no reference is made to the downward trend in pollution in that year.
• The judges also say that the DGT environmental label system is “rigid and does not offer any alternative solution” for vehicles that do not have it. For this reason, the judges reject that mobility in the ZBE during the prohibited hours depends on the economic capacity of the driver or owner because said owner would have to face the acquisition of a vehicle with a label, something that is not taken into account by the ordinance.
• In line with the above, the court argues that the analysis of the economic and social consequences is “very brief”, there is no analysis of the cost involved for the owners of affected vehicles and the impact on individual mobility in groups is not assessed. They can’t change cars.
• Nor do they consider the moratoriums and specific authorizations, which are ten a year, sufficiently justified.
• The TSJC room also alleges that the regulation occupies an excessive geographical area (95 km2 compared to 4.72 km2 of the ZBE Madrid 360), so it affects a large number of vehicles. The judges consider it fairer that the restrictions be carried out by concentric circles since the average values of carbon dioxide (NO2) are not the same in all areas. For example, they were exceeded in Eixample and Gràcia, but not in the rest of the stations.
€200 fine for breaching the ZBE
The announcement of the annulment of the ZBE of Barcelona has taken place three days after the Government and the city councils signed a document to extend the ZBE to all the municipalities of Catalonia with more than 20,000 inhabitants in the year 2025 (67 municipalities would be the affected by its worse air quality). A document in line with the Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition that will oblige municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to establish Low Emission Zones before 2023.
The ZBE of Barcelona represents an area of 95 km2 which includes the territory comprised within the perimeter described by the Ronda de Dalt and the Ronda del Litoral (excluding the ring roads themselves). It entered into force on January 1, 2020 permanently from Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Although with the covid the fines were postponed until September of that same year. More information about the ZBE of Barcelona at this link.
The new Traffic Law that has entered into force today adds as a novelty the fine of 200 euros to vehicles that fail to comply with the restrictions in the Low Emission Zones in Spain, an infraction considered serious. Until now, the fines for breaching the restrictions of the Barcelona ZBE were considered as minor, serious or very serious and amounted to 100 euros or more.
Now the Barcelona City Council has the possibility of appealing the judgment of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia within a period of 30 days. In any case, until the ruling of the TSJC is final (within a month if it is not appealed), the ZBE of Barcelona is not suspended and the city council has already announced that it will continue to fine. In 2021, some 70,000 vehicles without a label were fined for violating the restrictions.