ZFE: possible derogations for agglomerations specified in the decree

Agglomerations with a population of more than 150,000 will not be required to create low emission zones (ZFE or ZFEm) under certain conditions specified in the decree published on Saturday in the Official Journal. The generalization of these zones is provided for by law in these 43 metropolitan areas as of December 31, 2024, but derogations were provided for and thus formalized in the text.

The obligation to create an EPZ is lifted if it is proved that “annual average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are less than or equal to 10 µg/m3,” according to a decree signed, among others, by Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne. This level corresponds to the World Health Organization (WHO) thresholds, which are more stringent than the current European limits.

“It is difficult to say which agglomerations in 2025 will comply with the WHO thresholds,” points out one to the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion. “But it’s in the order of a few cities, less than ten a priori, that should benefit from this retreat,” the source explained to AFP. Agglomerations may also be exempt from ZFE if they offer alternative measures with equivalent effect.

They must demonstrate, no later than eighteen months before the expiration of the implementation commitment, that the measures taken allow nitrogen dioxide limit concentrations to be reached “within shorter timescales or similar to those resulting from the establishment of low-emission mobility”. zone,” the decree says.

“The creation of the WFD will be mandatory only when it is really necessary,” we comment in the ministry. “This retreat doesn’t weaken anything from a public health standpoint” because “it doesn’t dampen air pollution ambitions,” the source insists. ZFEs already cover 11 French cities, the first of which were Lyon, Grenoble and Paris. They aim to gradually ban the most polluting vehicles.

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