UK drivers warned of fines for driving a petrol or diesel car in Spain

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Any UK drivers looking to go on holiday this year could be hit with unnecessary fines this year when driving in popular tourist destinations like Spain. The Spanish Government has been keen to push forward with climate change and energy transition legislation in recent years to slash emissions.

As a result, a series of Low Emission Zones – or Zonas de Bajas Emisiones (ZBE) – have been introduced across the country after January 1.

The new rules will apply to municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, which number 149 across the Spanish territory, according to The Local.

Authorities in municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants and high air pollution levels will also have to introduce the new measures.

These LEZ’s will restrict access, circulation and parking for more polluting vehicles, although town and city halls will have a certain degree of autonomy as to how they apply the new rules.

To enter the cities on working days between 7am and 8pm, a vehicle must comply with Euro 3 petrol standards and Euro 4 diesel.

Drivers must also purchase the correct badge for the vehicle before entering the controlled zone.

It costs seven euros (£6.17) to register a car, with drivers facing fines of up to €200 (£176.16) if they do not comply and their vehicles are not compatible. 

Electric cars and other zero emission vehicles will require a blue sticker, while natural gas and hybrid vehicles will need a green and blue sticker.

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Any petrol and diesel petrol cars and vans registered after January 2006, and diesel cars registered after January 2015, will have a green “C” sticker.

Older vehicles including petrol cars and vans registered since January 2001, and diesel cars registered since January 2006, will be given a yellow “B” sticker.

Cars that are not eligible for a sticker are classified as “A” and cannot be used in Spain’s existing ZBEs as they’re considered too polluting, and it is unlikely they will be allowed in future ZBEs.

B and C label vehicles will have certain limitations which will be determined by city and town halls, as the national government has not set specific rules that apply across Spain.

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The two most notable cities with LEZs are Barcelona and the capital, Madrid, with marked signs informing drivers of when they are travelling through a ZBE.

Barcelona can also bar entry of all cars into the centre of the city when an episode of excess NO2 pollution is declared.

Vehicles registered outside of Spain are not classified according to the environmental label criteria of the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT).

This is why all foreign vehicles must be registered in the Metropolitan Registry to drive through the ZBE of the metropolis of Barcelona.

There are also low emission zones in Seville, Valencia, and Valladolid – however, they are weather-related air protection zone and are only activated when there is severe air pollution, the RAC reported.

The Spanish Government has also ended its state subsidy for every litre of petrol and diesel, with only a few exceptions remaining.

The subsidy took 20 cents (18p) off the price of every litre of fuel and was introduced in April, with the Government renewing the discount in June and September.

At the time, a litre of petrol cost €1.81 (£1.59) and a litre of diesel €1.83 (£1.61), prices which have fluctuated throughout 2022 but now currently stand at €1.59 (£1.40) and €1.661 (£1.46) respectively.

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