The Prefect of Haute-Savoie has prepared a new traffic restriction order for heavy goods vehicles in the event of a pollution peak in the Arve valley. This draft decree is open to public consultation until March 27th.
The Positive Points
- The temporary ban on traffic will be triggered automatically as soon as the alert threshold is reached (ie 1 day at 80μg of PM10 or on the 2nd day beyond the 50μg information threshold), which is faster than with the present decree.
- The ban will no longer be limited to a maximum of 20 days per year.
The Negative Points
- This decree will have no additional effect on international road transport. Just EURO 3 standard heavy goods vehicles will be banned in the event of a peak. The most polluting trucks (EURO 0, 1 and 2) are already banned all year round from using the Mont-Blanc Tunnel.
- Unfairly however, the decree imposes the same ban on local traffic as on international traffic: from EURO 0 to EURO 3 inclusive, without any financial help or fiscal assistance measures for local businesses, thus penalising the local economy.
THE UNTOUCHABLE ROAD TRANSPORT SECTOR
What local politicians, parliamentarians and NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) are requesting is a ban on EURO 3 trucks through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel all year round and the temporary ban on EURO 4 trucks in case of a pollution peak. All bodies are asking for part of the road traffic to be transferred onto rail, utilising the Alpine Railroad. In a stroke, this would cut vehicle pollution in the Region.
The Prefect remains deaf to these requests and has come up with a prefectoral order that negatively targets local traffic.
Once again, our authorities lack the strength of will to reasonably tackle one of the main causes of air pollution ie international road transport. Instead, they are targeting the easier‘soft belly’ of local business that are already well regulated in this area.
Millions of euros of aid are offered to the biggest industries in the Arve Valley to reduce their emissions within the framework of the air industry fund. But, here again, the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) of our area do not benefit from the same treatment. The tourism sector is beginning to suffer from air qualitylevels that no longer chime with tourists perceptions of escaping city pollution for clean mountain air.
Although they are a minority on our roads, heavy goods vehicles account for 32% of the transport sector's nitrogen dioxide emissions in the Arve Valley. Vans, mostly utilised by local businesses, are responsible for 17% of the emissions (Source: ATMO Auvergne Rhône-Alpes)
LET'S GET VOCAL
English speaking residents, whether permanent or temporary, can help protect the environment that probably brought them to the Alps in the first place. Get involved in the consultation (Subject / Consultation du public : restriction de la circulation des poids lourds en cas de pic de pollution) and remind the Prefect that, of course we are aware of our share of responsibility in local emissions and our need to act, but that we want ALL sectors to be equally involved - including the freight transport sector.
What To Ask For
- A temporary ban of EURO 4 heavy vehicles in transit through the Arve Valley duringpollution peaks.
- A permanent ban of EURO 3 trucks through Mont-Blanc tunnel.
- A gradual restriction on local traffic with a financial assistance package that encourages change.
- An end to political inaction concerning international freight transport.
Some Facts And Figures
- Traffic using the Mont-Blanc tunnel: 550,000 heavy trucks and 1 million cars per year, in addition to local, everyday traffic activity in the Arve Valley.
- France has been warned by Europe for exceeding the values for nitrogen dioxide pollution (road pollutant) in 19 areas including the Arve Valley.
- The legal limits for nitrogen dioxide are exceeded by about 20% every year along the roads leading to the Mont Blanc tunnel. That includes the length of the Route Blanches right through to the entrance of the tunnel.
- From July 2017, heavy goods traffic will be regulated in the Arve Valley using the Crit'Air stickers displayed on each vehicle. They will apply to all combustion powered vehicles. Get yours online for less than €5.