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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Eco Stickers and How Long Have We Got?
Sunday, January 8, 2023 @ 12:47 PM

There’s a certain panic over these eco-stickers that we are meant to put on the windshield of our vehicles (or on the petrol tank of the motorbike), if we wish to enter the centre of our local city, or indeed any major town of over 50,000 inhabitants.

Madrid and Barcelona, at least, sound keen to lower the ghastly smog levels following condemnation from the European Court of Justice. Around 7.5 million people live in these two cities – fifteen per cent of all Spaniards. To drive in either, motorists need to obtain and show a special sticker, an environmental badge.

Other large and no-so-large cities are generally a bit healthier, with sea-breeze, mountain air or other excuses for the remarkable breathability of the local soup. As such, no one seems too bothered to bring in the dreaded ZBE, low emission zone, penciled in for this January, until it absolutely categorically positively has to be installed, by the end of 2023.

So, panic over, more or less, and maybe.

After all, it seems that there are only seven out of the eighty largest cities in Spain which would pass the limit of nitrogen dioxide levels. Granada and Murcia are the worst, Badajoz and Benidorm are the best. The police themselves say that only 13% of cities that should have their ZBE-system in place have so far got around to it. There’s a useful map here.

For a vehicle which would fail such a test, due to its exhaust smoke and its age, and in consequence unable to be used in the designated city-centre low emission zone, there is little to be done beyond pushing it to the edge of the city and selling it for peanuts to some country rube.

They’ll put up signs at the approaches to the ZBE: a red outline with the image of a car and dirty dots coming out of its exhaust. Then, those vehicles allowed access will have their handy eco-sticker representation on the same sign – possibly even with the hours permitted. No doubt a camera will be there as well; after all, there are few city halls that can’t do with some extra low-hanging income (the fine in question being 200 euros).

Some cameras will apparently double up and check if your ITV is current as well.

All of this is music to the ears of Spain’s elderly traffic czar Pere Navarro, who can ride around all day long in a modern vehicle with an up-to-date sticker, while talking on the phone and, if he likes, drinking a glass of something medicinal. He has a chauffeur you see.

149 cities and major towns across Spain will be operating the ZBE-system, sooner or later, with places as modest as Chiclana, Alcoi, Estepona, Fuengirola, Torrevieja, Torremolinos and Mijas making the list.

In short, each town hall must decide for itself as to the ‘when’; and they will have to place traffic signs to inform drivers, therefore (says an item from the useful police N332 page) ‘if you have not seen any sign yet, it is because they are still planning where to do it’.

The sticker – assuming one’s vehicle makes the grade – can be bought at the correos for five euros (bring ID and car papers) or online from the DGT website. Foreign cars should have their own European sticker already (!), while Brit cars will… er… um…

Old cars, collectors’ items all, are released from this program.  An old – or historic car – must be over fifty and be properly registered – which will cost between 600 and 900 euros.

The four types of sticker are: O blue (electric cars); ECO green and blue (hybrids); C Green (petrol passenger cars and vans from January 2006, diesel from January 2014) and B yellow (as above, January 2000 for petrol, January 2006 for diesel). One can even punch in a licence plate on the DGT website to find out if the vehicle is going to earn a sticker. Of course, there’s a useful kit that can convert your car from petrol to zero-emission gas or electric for between 2,000 and 7,000 euros. Maybe. Or again, haul it to the edge of the city and put a ‘Se Vende’ sign on it.

And then you see, you will take the municipal bus, or – if they have one – the tram.

Like 3


PablodeRonda said:
Saturday, January 14, 2023 @ 8:16 AM

Hi, Lenox. As usual you have written a very useful, and timely, article. I have a client here who has been really worried about this issue. Your article should set her mind at rest. Thank you.

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