New Madrid council suspends low-emission zone in ‘party politics’ row

The new right-wing mayor of Madrid has suspended a low-emission initiative that was introduced by his left-wing predecessor.

The zone was designed to cut nitrogen dioxide levels in the centre of the Spanish capital by fining drivers of more-polluting vehicles who entered it.

The scheme had proved successful, with local media reporting that pollution from the gas was 48 per cent lower in April 2019 compared with the same month in 2018.

However, just three days after taking office, new mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida of the People’s Party announced that the scheme would be suspended from July 1. He added, though, that it was a temporary suspension and could be reversed.

The Guardian reports that the environmental group Ecologists in Action is planning protests in the city against the decision.

The group’s co-ordinator, Paco Segura, said: “This is stubbornness on the part of the city council, which said it would take action on this despite the fact that it flies in the face of all logic and common sense. This is a case of pure party politics being placed before people’s health.”

Meanwhile, Martínez-Almeida’s deputy, Begoña Villacís of the Citizens party, also criticised the move, saying she had argued against such action. She told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo earlier this week: “We don’t think it would be a good idea to simply change everything back to how it was.

“Now it’s up and running, we know which bits of it work and which don’t, so we can listen to people and adapt it as needs be. But I don’t think a total reversal is the option.”