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Residents urge new right-wing City Hall not to reverse Madrid's anti-pollution traffic plan

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Residents urge new right-wing City Hall not to reverse Madrid's anti-pollution traffic plan
13:28 CEST+02:00
The first measure announced by the new Popular Party-led council installed in Madrid's City Hall was to reverse Madrid Central, a traffic restriction plan for the capital that has cut pollution and seen air quality improve.

The new Madrid mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida of the PP, announced that beginning July 1st penalties would no longer be in place for those contravening the Madrid Central restrictions, a measure that effectively ends the plan without having to officially revoke it.

More than 100,000 Madrid residents have already signed a petition urging the new council not to overturn the traffic restrictions.

“This isn't about ideology, it's a question of health,” insisted Jota Saéz who started the petition on Change.org.

Since the scheme was introduced under leftwing mayor Manuela Carmena last December, the air is visibly clearer, people complain less about allergies, and there are notably less traffic jams, even in rush hour.

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Photo: AFP

In the latest environmental impact assessment,  Ecologists in Action report that in the month of May, the levels of nitrogen dioxide  (a polluting case released by vehicles) have reached the lowest levels since records began in 2010.

“Pollution has been reduced especially in the centre and north of the city, without a hint of border effect by Central Madrid,” the NGO said in the report.  

“The data confirms the remarkable benefits that Madrid Central is generating for quality of the air and, therefore, for the health of the citizen".

At 14 of the 24 pollution measuring stations across Madrid, the value recorded during May was the lowest in the last decade.

And at an average of 22 micrograms of pollutant per cubic meter of air, it represents the lowest monthly value registered by the network for any month since the network began to operate in January 2010.

In the centre of Madrid, within the traffic restriction scheme itself, pollution was 44 percent less that in May last year.

Madrid was following in the footsteps of other European cities like London, Stockholm and Milan with a scheme aimed "reducing pollution, noise and improving public spaces."

But it is now set to be the first European city to reverse the scheme – despite it's obvious success.

In local and regional elections last month, Madrid Mas – the party of mayor Manuela Carmena – won the biggest share of the vote, suggesting the popularity of the traffic scheme.

But they failed to secure a majority both in the regional parliament and City Hall, leaving the way open for right wing coalition led by the conservative Popular Party and with the support of centrist Ciudadanos and the far-right VOX.

Both the PP and Vox had spoken out against the Madrid Central scheme during their campaign.

READ ALSO: Is Madrid about to reverse the traffic restrictions that solved its pollution problem?

 
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