THE BATTLE OF THE BAD AIR
By Rose Maramba
One of the very first things Madrid’s newly installed coalition government of conservative parties (Partido Popular and Ciudadanos) has done was to impose a moratorium on the fines on unauthorized vehicles that enter Madrid Central. This is the 472-hectare “Central Almond” consisiting of the centrally localted districts in the capital. With a 37% reduction of vehicles driving through or parking in the area, the leftist Ahora Madrid government of outgoing Mayor Manuela Carmena has reduced the emission of hazardous nitrogen oxide (NO2) by 40% through the penalization of infractors. The program was launched in November 2018.
Since 2010, Madrid has repeatedly exceeded the limits on NO2 set by EU rulings. For which Spain could suffer a penalty of €2,000 million (€2 billion in American parlance), or €100 million per semester between 2010 and the present. According to Ecologistas en Accion, a Spanish environmentalist organization, if the European Commision has decided in 2018 not to take Spain to the European Clourt of Justice, it is because the EU trusts in the efficacy of Madrid Central. The Court of Justice is the European Union’s supreme court in matters of EU law.
Whether out of ignorance or in defiance of the EU, the Partido Popular (PP) campaigned against Madrid Central and promised to dismantle it should the party win the municipal election, held last May, because “ha sido un fracaso (it has been a failure).” Thus by late June of this year, once the PP-Ciudadanos coalation has voted successfully for the investiture of the incumbent mayor, Jose Luis Martinez Almeida, the new government of the capital suspended the fines on unauthorized vehicles passing through or parking in the restricted area, thereby allowing — even encouraging — its reversion to the free-for-all area it used to be.
On Friday, 5 July, however, following the complaint lodged urgently by Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Accion, on behalf of the Plataforma en Defensa de Madrid Central, the Court (Juzgado 24 de lo Contencioso-Administrativo de Madrid) suspended the moratorium.
The suspension will take effect this Monday, 8 July. It will remain in force until such time as the courts have made a final decision on the matter and, above all, on the continued existence or death of Madrid Central.
Related post: “The Gran Via and the Madrid Central ¡Que Guay!”
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Featured image (Crystal Palace, Retiro Park, Madrid)/Nicolas Vigier, PD
Bike rider with mask/Kevin Grieve, cropped, on Unsplash
Ecologistas en Accion Facebook post, Fair use
Ecoloogistas en Accion image based on the organization’s logo/DataCell, CC BY-SA4.0
Greenpeace logo, Fair use