Paris has banned clas­sics dur­ing the work­ing week. Will our cities now fol­low suit? CCW in­ves­ti­gates.

From July you’ll be re­stricted from tak­ing your clas­sic into the French cap­i­tal on week­days. We ask whether UK cities will fol­low suit

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News - Sam Skelton with con­tri­bu­tions from Stephane Sch­lesinger

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has an­nounced a con­tro­ver­sial ban on pre-1997 cars from Paris dur­ing the work­ing week, start­ing on 1 July. The plan, aimed at re­duc­ing emis­sions and con­trol­ling air pol­lu­tion, has at­tracted crit­i­cism from driv­ers of clas­sics – de­spite the re­stric­tion only be­ing in force from 8am-8pm.

Each car reg­is­tered in Paris will be re­quired to dis­play a disc in the win­dow, which will in­di­cate its sta­tus re­gard­ing emis­sions, de­signed to make en­force­ment of the ban far eas­ier for po­lice and city of­fi­cials – rather like a UK tax disc.

The scheme makes no dis­tinc­tion for his­toric ve­hi­cles, though France’s equiv­a­lent of the FBHVC, Fédéra­tion

Française des Véhicules d’Epoque, is cam­paign­ing to have this re­vised. At the time of writ­ing its had secured ex­emp­tion for Col­lec­tion Grise Carte sta­tus – about 20% of French reg­is­tered clas­sics.

Sir Greg Knight, chair­man of the All-Party Par­lia­men­tary His­toric Ve­hi­cle Group, feels that France’s sys­tem will in­crease the gap be­tween rich and poor, and that the UK is lead­ing the way in city emis­sion in­cen­tivi­sa­tion.

‘The French are en­ti­tled to do what they like in their own coun­try but I re­gard an out­right ban on pre-1997 ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing Paris on week­days as “ges­ture pol­i­tics” of the worst kind, which will hit the poor hard­est,’ he says.

He adds that Lon­don’s pro­posed Ul­tra Low Emis­sions Zone (ULEZ) makes an ex­cep­tion for cars made more than 40 years ago, and rather than ban­ning more re­cent older cars, sub­jects a small charge.

‘I be­lieve this is the cor­rect way to pro­ceed be­cause it in­cen­tivises the own­ers of older ev­ery­day cars not to take to take to city roads dur­ing the rush hour but does not seek to pun­ish them be­cause they can­not af­ford to buy a new car,’ he adds.

If the ini­tia­tive is a suc­cess it could be in­tro­duced in other French cities, and with a Lon­don emis­sions zone and pro­pos­als for Ox­ford and other cities in the UK, the scheme could have an im­pact here too.

Cur­rently the Lon­don Emis­sions Zone con­trols high pol­luters such as vans and HGVs, though a pro­posed ULEZ to be en­acted in 2020 will in­volve more strin­gent

‘This is ges­ture pol­i­tics of the worst kind’ – Sir Greg Knight

emis­sions reg­u­la­tions, and will re­sult in a charge for older ve­hi­cles.

The Depart­ment for Trans­port (DfT) – which is fund­ing schemes in Nottingham, Bris­tol, Mil­ton Keynes and Lon­don to en­cour­age more peo­ple to use zero emis­sions ve­hi­cles – con­firms more emis­sions zones are on the way. A DfT spokesman says: ‘Tack­ling air pol­lu­tion is a Gov­ern­ment pri­or­ity, which is why we pub­lished air qual­ity plans last De­cem­ber.

‘These plans clearly set out how we will tackle air pol­lu­tion through a new pro­gramme of Clean Air Zones, which along­side na­tional ac­tion and con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in cleaner tech­nolo­gies, will help im­prove air qual­ity.

‘Birm­ing­ham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southamp­ton will have Clean Air Zones by 2020.’

While Lon­don has al­ready agreed to ex­empt 40-year+ clas­sics in its Ul­tra Low Emis­sions Zone from 2020 on­wards, Ox­ford is still con­sid­er­ing whether clas­sics should be al­lowed into its city cen­tre.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish His­toric Ve­hi­cle Clubs points out that while it ac­knowl­edges the ben­e­fits of city emis­sions zones it has so far suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated ex­emp­tions for UK clas­sic own­ers. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Ge­off Lan­caster says: ‘The ar­gu­ment is that mileages un­der­taken by His­toric Ve­hi­cles are min­i­mal and there’d po­ten­tially be a loss to the pub­lic’s en­joy­ment of ob­serv­ing our mo­tor­ing her­itage were they to be banned. Should any sim­i­lar scheme be pro­posed in the UK we will con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate on be­half of the his­toric ve­hi­cle move­ment for ex­emp­tions, as we have suc­cess­fully in the case of Lon­don.’

The Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion says that while there is a prece­dent in Europe for cities ban­ning cer­tain cars al­to­gether, the UK was un­likely to fol­low suit.

‘As we have seen with the Low Emis­sions Zone in Lon­don, the UK Gov­ern­ment tends to­ward tax­ing high pol­luters rather than ban­ning them,’ the AA spokesman says.

‘With so few older cars in the UK we would see a ban as a pithy mea­sure that would achieve very lit­tle save alien­at­ing en­thu­si­asts of older cars. To sug­gest what’s hap­pen­ing in Paris would hap­pen in Lon­don or other UK cities is there­fore a bit of a quan­tum leap at this stage.’

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