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France announces anti-pollution plan to fight smog

On the Paris motorway, the speed limit has been lowered to 60 km/hour, whilst public transport has been made free
On the Paris motorway, the speed limit has been lowered to 60 km/hour, whilst public transport has been made free Reuters/Charles Platiau

France is stepping up measures to curb red-alert pollution levels with a new prevention plan, that will be launched next Summer. The plan which includes speed-limits for high-polluting vehicles will be enforced in the regions most affected by smog. It comes amid rising health concerns. 

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French Environment minister, Phillippe Martin, laid out measures on Saturday for a pollution prevention plan as high levels of smog continue to engulf the capital.

The plan will reinforce speed restrictions for high-polluting vehichles, in thirty regions including Ile de France, where the limit has been broken several times.

High pollution levels were reported only last December in and around Paris, blamed on diesel-powered vehicules.

The environment ministry is under pressure from environmental groups to adopt an alternating traffic system to prevent new cases of severe smog.

But the ministry says that banning cars with odd and even licence plates on alternate days will be complicated to enforce.

Experts blame the spike -which enters its fifth day - on the abnormally warm weather and cold nights. The dangerously high levels of pollution has forced the government to offer free public transport to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home.

Other measures such as banning large trucks from entering Paris, as well as making the public bike and car sharing services free for all, have also been adopted. But environmental groups still want the government to do more.

In an interview on Saturday, the Environment minister said he was working closely with local authorities to elaborate a plan for the most affected areas.

Earlier this week, concentrations of small particles in the air exceeded the threshold considered safe for humans, triggering widespread pollution alerts and health concerns.

 

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