Madrid pollution levels soar within just one day of scrapping traffic restriction scheme

Just a day after traffic restrictions were scrapped by the new mayor, air pollution returned to levels recorded in the days before Madrid Central was introduced.

Madrid pollution levels soar within just one day of scrapping traffic restriction scheme
Photo: AFP

Environmentalists warned that pollution levels had risen above the legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday and soared to 70 – a level not reached since Madrid introduced its traffic restrictions last November.


On Monday morning, July 1st,  Madrid's new mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, from the right-wing Popular Party fulfilled his promise to ditch fines for driving in the capital’s low-emissions zones and scrap Madrid Central, an initiative that was introduced to improve air quality.

Martínez-Almeida described the reversal as a temporary measure put in place while he and his team decides what to do about Madrid Central. He said they were working to “fight for sustainable mobility and against pollution, while guaranteeing citizen mobility and avoid, as much as possible, the losses suffered by retailers.”

READ MORE: 'I'm crying inside': Madrileños react to reversal of city traffic restriction

Protestors blocked traffic on Calle Alcala on Monday to defend Madrid Central. Photo: Greenpeace Madrid.


The new mayor’s decision to suspend fines came despite the action of several ecological groups over the past weeks, including a march of 60 thousand people on Saturday.

But the mayor, who has failed to answer the activists’ requests for a meeting to discuss the issue, poked fun at protestors, saying he envies “how much free time they have to carry out these sorts of actions”.

In spite of this, ecologists continue to deliver hard evidence on the environmental benefits of the city’s low-emission zones, with Juan Bárcena, spokesperson of the group Ecologistas en Acción, pointing out that levels of pollution have reached their legal limit – 40 micrograms per cubic meter – which is something that hasn’t happened in the last quarter.  

By Alice Huseyinoglu

READ ALSO:  Madrid Central: Five reasons why scrapping anti-pollution traffic scheme is 'absurd'.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.