Bulgaria’s capital bans polluting older cars from city centre in winter months

Sofia city council voted on December 15 to ban cars over a certain age from the city centre as of 2023, with the ban to be in effect from the beginning of December to the end of January.

The ban was backed by GERB-UDF, Democratic Bulgaria and independent councillor Boris Bonev, and opposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the ultra-nationalist Patriots for Sofia, with the latter two groups arguing that the move was discriminatory and “punishing” the poorest.

The ban will apply to an area bounded by Vassil Levski, Patriarch Evtimii, General Skobelev, Slivnitsa and Opulchenska boulevards.

Petrol-driver cars registered before 1996 will be barred, as will diesel-driven cars registered before 2002.

Video cameras will scan the eco-strickers of cars entering the area covered by the ban. The penalty for breaching the rule will be 50 leva (about 25 euro).

The December vote followed an earlier attempt to approve the ban in July. It was dropped from the council agenda at the time because it had not gained sufficient support.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said: “The expectation is that 20 per cent of all those drivers will switch to public transport, that is, leave their cars. Of course, we also expect a percentage of those people to switch cars.”

(Archive photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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