Low emission zones become stricter in 2022
The standards for low emission zones in the cities of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent are becoming increasingly stringent. And that has consequences for the car industry as well. From 1 January 2022, the Brussels Capital Region will no longer allow Euro 4 diesel cars in in the 19 municipalities of Brussels. Anyone entering the city with a ‘polluting’ car risks a heavy fine. We give you an overview of the low emission rules in Flanders.
By introducing low emission zones, cities want to keep the most polluting vehicles out of the city centers and improve the air quality for their residents. In 2017, Antwerp was the first city in Belgium to declare the area within its beltway a low emission zone. One year later, Brussels imposed an emissions restriction on the entire Capital Region. In 2020, outdated cars were also banned from the center of Ghent.
The Walloon cities of Charleroi, Liège and Namur will soon follow. There are even plans to extend the low emission zones to all cities in Wallonia, but this has not yet been finalized.
Stricter standards since 1 January 2022
Since 2020, you can no longer drive a Euro 4 diesel into the low emission zones of Antwerp and Ghent. And as of this year, Brussels only allows diesel cars with a Euro 5 standard or higher, and petrol cars with at least a Euro 2 standard. Especially older diesel cars without a particulate filter are targeted because they emit more harmful substances, such as fine dust, soot and NOx. Diesel cars, vans and minibuses with the Euro 4 standard are therefore no longer welcome in the low emission zones of Antwerp, Ghent and all 19 municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region.
Brussels differs slightly from Antwerp and Ghent
The new standards are similar in Antwerp and Ghent, while Brussels is a little stricter for car pollution. Until 31 December 2024, you can continue to drive a petrol, LPG or CNG car starting at Euro 2 in Antwerp and Ghent, as well as a diesel vehicle starting at Euro 5. And in return for a €345 annual fee, you can still use a Euro 4 diesel car in Ghent. In Antwerp, this will cost you €365. The same rules apply in Brussels, although you cannot drive a Euro 4 diesel car anymore. If you still need to drive your ‘polluting’ car into one of these three cities, you can always buy a day pass. This costs €35 per day and can be purchased up to 8 times per year and per car.
Heavy fines for ignoring low emission zones
Those who enter a city with an outdated car and have not purchased a day pass risk a heavy fine. In Brussels, an offender pays €350, although you will only be fined from April 2022 as the capital city introduces the new rules with an adjustment period. In Antwerp, breaking the rules will cost you €150 for the first violation. If you are fined a second time within 12 months, another €250 is added. And for a third offence, you pay €350. The city of Ghent is a little more forgiving and fines €150 per violation. Compliance with the low emission zone is checked by intelligent ANPR cameras. They scan the number plates of all vehicles that drive into the zone. So, the chance for an offender to be caught is virtually 100%.
Even stricter in the future
The standards of the low emission zones will only become stricter in the future. For example, from 2030 onwards, Brussels will no longer allow even the most recent Euro 6d diesel cars, unless they have a day pass. What will happen in Ghent and Antwerp is not yet clear. Also (plug-in) hybrid diesel cars with a CO2 emission of more than 50 grams per kilometer will be subject to the same standards as regular diesel cars in Brussels. Antwerp and Ghent will allow plug-in hybrids until 2028. It is possible to request an exception for certain vehicles, such as cars that are officially registered as old-timers.
Alternatives for the future
The low emission zones must keep the most polluting cars out of city centers. Fortunately, there are many alternative mobility solutions on offer. The Brussels Capital Region, for example, has a Mobility Coach, who provides free online coaching sessions and organizes mobility visits to test alternatives for a car. The coach helps citizens find the best way to get around in Brussels. The new Brussel’Air bonus is intended to provide a tailored offer to Brussels residents who decide to give up their vehicle.