Barcelona set to ban old cars

The Gran Placa Circular bordered by the serpentine bench at Park Guell, Barcelona

Authorities in Barcelona are set to ban old cars from driving in the city on working days.

According to The Guardian, the initiative, which comes into effect in 2019, will see all cars built before January 1997 and vans built before October 1994 banned from the roads of Barcelona and 39 of its neighbouring municipalities during working days.

The authorities will also allow local government to ban these vehicles from the city during periods of high pollution from December 1, 2017.

The Guardian reports that the initiative is being introduced to cut the Catalan capital's traffic emissions by 30 per cent over the next 15 years.

By the council's calculations, the ban will affect 106,000 cars (7 per cent of the total registered in the region) and 22,000 vans (around 16 per cent of the total in the area).

"[The goal] is to reduce emissions by 10 percent over the next five years, to gradually reach the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and accelerate the adoption of more intensive local measures in order to reach the levels set by the EU before 2020," the city's council said.

Although not commonly thought of among Europe's most polluted cities, it is estimated that air pollution causes around 3,500 premature deaths a year in Barcelona.

Janet Sanz, the city's deputy mayor for the environment, urban planning and transport, told The Guardian: "The people of Barcelona have told us clearly in surveys that they want to fight against air pollution because it is a health problem of the first order."