The circulation of HGV will be restricted, during peak pollution periods, in the Arve Valley, the Maurienne - Tarentaise valleys and in the urban zone of Pays de Savoie (Annecy - Chambéry). The new local law was officially published on July 21, unchanged from the original text submitted for consultation in June. Although this new measure will barely make a difference to air quality, it is a strong indication that the government is, for the first time, acknowledging the extensive damage caused by freight transport to local air quality. In this respect, the new law is close to historic!
The end of a taboo in France
The free circulation of goods, a sacred principle until now, is starting to show its limitations. Slowly but surely, more and more decision makers are acknowledging the need to protect people’s health. This local law makes it possible, at long last, to restrict road transport in France in order to protect public health.
The measure suggests banning trucks in transit (not delivering goods in the areas concerned), of more than 7.5 Ton and of EURO 3 standard or below, when pollution levels hit alert level. Local traffic limitations will be imposed on EURO 0 and and EURO 1 trucks only, in order, we are told, not to penalise the local economy.
This new small but essential measure is the result of years of hard work by local environmental organisations and countless events organised by generations of local people (demos, rallies, petitions…).
Thank you to everyone who has helped us make this first step.
Our objective remains: a shift towards rail freight
This local law should be the first building block towards a cleaner way of transporting goods using existing rail infrastructure in the Alps. The best option would be to transfer a proportion of HGV traffic onto rail, as has been done in other Alpine countries such as Switzerland. The historic Mont Cenis railway line, in Savoie, was recently improved and could now carry considerably more freight.
The heavy weight of truck emissions
In the Arve valley, HGVs and vans are responsible for 40% of total particle emissions (PM10) attributable to the transport sector. They are also responsible for 60% of nitrogen dioxide (N02) emissions in the same sector. Measures have already been put into place to reduce emissions from heating and cars, but it is also necessary to deal with the emissions of freight transport.