Clean transport zones

28 July, 2022 |

Smog is an increasing problem in cities every year. It causes a number of severe consequences for our health. Therefore, solutions are introduced to reduce the nuisance of smog. One of them is the creation of clean transport zones. It is worth knowing what they are about and who will be able to enter there.

What are clean transport zones?

At the end of 2021, the amendment to the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels entered into force in Poland. Article 39 of this Act states that in order to reduce the negative impact of pollutant emissions from transport, the commune may establish a clean transport zone. The roads in such a zone may not be entered by vehicles other than electric, hydrogen or natural gas vehicles. At the same time, the amendment allows for the possibility of exceptions established by the commune council.

How should vehicles entering clean transport zones be marked?

Cars allowed to enter clean transport zones must have a sticker affixed to the lower left corner of the vehicle’s windshield. Such a sticker is issued by the commune head, mayor or city president. He may charge a fee for this, but its amount is symbolic and may not exceed PLN 5.

The new sticker, valid from May 4, 2022, is green and octagonal. It is to contain the following information: the year of production of the vehicle, type of fuel used, information whether the sticker was issued in accordance with the guidelines established by the municipality, the name of the municipality, vehicle registration number and the D-54 road sign.

However, the act also lists the types of vehicles that have access to clean transport zones without a sticker. These are:

  • vehicles of the Police, Road Transport Inspection, ABW, Foreign Intelligence Agency, Counterintelligence and Military Intelligence Service, CBA, Border Guard, State Protection Service, Prison Service, National Revenue Administration, fire protection units, Maritime Search and Rescue Service and rescue services;
  • vehicles of road managers and carrying out tasks on their behalf;
  • vehicles of the Polish Armed Forces;
  • properly marked vehicles used by disabled people; specialized means of sanitary transport;
  • zero-emission buses and school buses.

The commune council may, on the basis of a resolution, allow entry to the clean transport zones for vehicles with combustion engines that meet selected emission standards.

Is the use of clean transport zones payable?

Diesel-powered vehicles that do not meet the requirements will be allowed to enter the clean transport zone for three years from its construction between 9 am and 5 pm, but the entry will be paid. The fees are PLN 2.5 per hour or PLN 500 per month as a subscription.

Advantages and disadvantages of clean transport zones

The introduction of clean transport zones from the very beginning was controversial and fears that they will not have a significant impact on reducing pollutant emissions, but will make life difficult for drivers. Supporters of the introduced solutions believe that the zones will not only help to reduce pollutant emissions, but also improve the safety of residents due to the reduction of road traffic in these areas. This is certainly an argument in favor of introducing such zones. However, a serious argument raised by drivers is the fact that in Poland we are not ready for such a change yet. First of all, because most of us buy used cars, characterized by very high emissions and not equipped with ecological solutions. Most of the cars on Polish roads are over a dozen years old and this average does not change much. Critics of clean transport zones also point out that the law allows so many exceptions (the commune council has a lot of freedom in this matter) that in fact most cars will be able to enter the zone anyway. Drivers whose vehicles are not on the list of exceptions in a given area will be able to enter the zone after paying the toll.

Certainly, however, the introduction of clean transport zones is a step forward in terms of care for air quality in Poland and reduction of pollution. Time will show whether the introduced solutions will prove to be sufficiently effective.

Since when do the regulations related to clean transport zones apply?

The regulations have been in force since the amendment to the act is signed by the president, i.e. from December 2021. However, interestingly, formally there is no clean transport zone in Poland yet (May 2022). Consultations on this matter are ongoing in some cities (including Warsaw and Krakow), so it is worth checking on a regular basis as to how the situation is developing.