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Driving in Spain: Which towns and cities have low-emission zones?

The Local Spain
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Driving in Spain: Which towns and cities have low-emission zones?
So far only 14 of the 151 Spanish municipalities meant to implement tham have done so. Photo: wgelissen/Pixabay.

Low-emission zones were introduced as part of Spain's green transition to prevent polluting cars from certain areas. However, only 14 of the 151 Spanish municipalities which were meant to implement the new limitations have done so.


As part of the Spanish government’s climate change and energy transition legislation, a series of low-emission zones (Zonas de Bajas Emisiones, ZBE) were introduced across the country on January 1st 2023.

The aim is to reduce air pollution in Spain’s urban areas and by 2050 have a fleet of cars and light commercial vehicles without direct carbon dioxide emissions, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Which cities should have ZBEs?

The rules apply to municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, which number 151 across Spanish. These low-emission zones 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.

Towns and cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants that exceed certain pollution values are also expected to implement the zones.

Cars that are not eligible for a low-emissions sticker are petrol vehicles that were manufactured before 2001 or diesel vehicles manufactured before 2006.

READ MORE: How Spain's new low-emission zones will affect drivers

However, as the year has gone on it has emerged that the majority of municipalities have delayed their enforcement until 2024. In fact, according to La Información, of the 151 that should be trying to implement ZBEs, just 14 municipalities have done so far and have the rules in force.

In fact, 30 municipalities have not even started the process of implementing them, such as Menorca, Ferrol (A Coruña), Aranjuez (Madrid), Motril (Granada) and Mijas (Málaga). In Santander and Elche, the local governments have outright refused to implement ZBEs so far, or even start the process, and in Badalona (despite ZBEs already being in force) local government is not applying the rules.


Which towns and cities have low-emission zones?

The towns and cities that have implemented ZBEs so far are:

A Coruña
Badalona (Barcelona)
Sant Cugat del Vallés (Barcelona)
Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona)
Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona)
La Línea de la Concepción (Cádiz)
Rivas-Vaciamadrid (Madrid)


Deadline extensions

The town halls in Málaga, Granada, Ceuta, Burgos and Palma de Mallorca have all requested extensions to the ZBE deadline. Palma City Council has asked for an extension until 31st December 2024, as is also the case in Málaga, citing a lack of resources and high-demand.

In Burgos, where a new right-wing PP-Vox coalition has entered office since the environmental legislation was passed, the government there has also requested the full one-year extension and is expected to try and water down the rules as much as it can.

READ ALSO: The trick to enter Spain’s low emission zones with an old car

In the process

122 municipalities are in the process of implementing ZBEs, but at vastly varying speeds.

The cities of Badajoz, Gandía (Valencia), Zamora and Ávila will have them in force before the end of 2023. In the case of Guadalajara, Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes (both in the Madrid region), ZBEs are expected to be in place by 1 January 2024.

Other municipalities such as Oviedo, Gijón and Avilés will have them set up some time in 2024. In Seville, where the ZBE is, officially speaking, active and in force, local government have confirmed that the actual implementation of the rules - that is to say, cameras enforcing the ZBE - has not yet begun and is expected to start sometime in early 2024.


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