SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — Seoul will begin restricting the entry of old diesel cars into the city on days with severe fine dust, starting Wednesday.
Seoul announced the emergency measure to cut down fine dust emissions on Tuesday, the sixth time this year.
The measure will enter effect when ultrafine dust concentrations reach the government’s designated ‘bad’ level over two consecutive days. Restricting the entry of old diesel cars is a new rule to be included this time.
Seoul retracted its policy of offering free public transportation on days with poor air quality, a measure that entered effect in February, replacing it with a new plan of restricting old diesel automobiles.
After nine months of preparation, the city is ready to move forward with the new initiative.
As soon as the emergency measure comes into effect, all diesel cars registered before December 31, 2005 will be banned from driving in the city from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Drivers who ignore the directive will face fines of up to 100,000 won.
There are currently 320,000 old diesel cars over 2.5 tons in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area that are subject to immediate enforcement, with 200,000 of them registered in Seoul.
Old diesel cars under 2.5 tons, vehicles for disabled persons, and vehicles registered outside of the metropolitan area will be exempted from the restriction until February of next year, to provide a grace period for owners of these cars to install emissions reduction devices.
Vehicles registered in Gapyeong, Yangpyeong, Yeoncheon, Ongjin (excluding Yeongheung-myun) and other areas not included in the Atmosphere Control Zone set under the Special Act on the Improvement of Air Quality in the Seoul Metropolitan Area will also be exempted from the restrictions.
Starting next February, the restriction will be expanded to cover 700,000 cars in the metropolitan area, and 2.2 million cars across the country.
Gyeonggi Province and Incheon will be joining Seoul to ban old diesel cars starting February 15 in accordance with the Special Act on the Management of Fine Dust.
Seoul will use 80 enforcement systems installed at 37 locations throughout the city to filter old diesel vehicles entering Seoul. The city plans to increase the number of points of enforcement to 50 locations by the end of this year.
Seoul expects to crack down on approximately 4,000 cars and has been notifying drivers of vehicles subject to the restriction of the new measure.
The practice of restricting high-polluting vehicles was first reported in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996. Since then, England, Germany, France and other 200 cities in ten countries have followed suit.
London has been restricting trucks over 3.5 tons for 10 years. Starting next year, the city plans to ban the entry of diesel and gasoline cars, as well as two-wheeled vehicles, if they fail to meet eco-friendly standards.
Seoul expects that restricting old diesel cars will be more effective than the previous policy of having cars drive every two days (the alternative-day-no-drive policy).
In the best scenario, the new restriction will cut down 40 percent of fine dust emitted by diesel cars. Keeping only 50 percent of the measure will still lead to a fine dust emissions reduction of 20 percent.
The measure will also close 456 parking lots for public institutions throughout the city, while 33,000 government vehicles will be banned from driving.
In addition, 12 facilities including incineration plants will regulate operations to reduce emissions, while 151 construction projects ordered by Seoul city will have shorter working hours.
Seoul residents can participate in the alternative-day-no-drive policy voluntarily.
“Participation is essential for a successful implementation of the measure,” said Hwang Bo-yeon, Seoul’s deputy mayor for climate and environment. “Your cooperation in restricting old diesel vehicles will be very appreciated.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)