Paris bans vehicles in toxic smog fight

GREG KELLER
Last updated 10:00 18/03/2014
Reuters

In a move to reduce smog in Paris, certain cars and trucks have been banned from the city with fines handed out to those who flout the rule.

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Paris has imposed drastic measures to combat its worst air pollution in years, banning around half of the city's cars and trucks from its streets for a day in an attempt to reduce the toxic smog that's shrouded the City of Light for more than a week.

Cars with even-numbered licence plates were prohibited from driving in Paris and its suburbs. Around 700 police manned 179 control points around the region, handing out tickets to offenders. Taxis and commercial vehicles weren't covered by the ban.

Police had ticketed nearly 4000 people by midday (midnight, NZ time), and 27 drivers had their cars impounded for refusing to co-operate with officers.

France has seen exceptionally warm, dry weather this month with little wind, which has trapped car pollution and fumes from seasonal farming activity in the air. France's unusually high number of diesel vehicles is also contributing to the smog.

Environment Minister Philippe Martin said lower traffic and favourable weather patterns were having an impact on pollution, and that the alternate-plates measure would be lifted tonight (NZ time).

It was the first time since 1997 that the measure was taken.

All public transport has been free for four days straight to help deal with the pollution - but that too is set to end tonight.

Paris' anti-pollution efforts trail behind those of some other cities.

Athens has had a similar alternate driving ban in place for many years that has reduced pollution and traffic. In Brazil, Sao Paulo employs a complicated licence plate-based system that assigns each car a day of the week when it cannot be driven during rush hours.

Berlin has strict rules on what kind of cars can enter the city, and London makes drivers pay a "congestion charge" to drive in the centre of town.

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- AP

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