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Low Emission Zones in Poland: what does the future hold?

As of today, there are no functioning Low Emission Zones in Poland. However, that is set to change – with Warsaw, Cracow and Wrocław working on introducing them in the coming years. What can we expect?

Warsaw is legally required to introduce a LEZ by regulations on air quality protection adopted at the voivodeship level.

In January 2023, the city has presented the draft proposed scope and form of the Zone for public consultations, which are legally required to establish a Zone. These have concluded in late April, with a report summarizing the process published in late June 2023.

The city authorities are currently considering whether to alter the proposed scheme in accordance with the remarks received during consultations, with the announcement of the final form of the Zone and the vote of the City Council on the relevant resolution expected in autumn.

The opening of the Low Emission Zone is scheduled for July 1st 2024 – with the draft proposition involving subsequent tightening of entry regulations every 2 years until 2032.

Cracow is also legally obligated to establish a LEZ by voivodeship-level air quality protection regulations.

Between March and May 2022, the authorities conducted facultative social consultations aimed at gathering suggestions for the regulations of the Zone. The draft proposition of the form of the LEZ was then presented to the public for legally required consultations, held in September and October 2022.

On October 23rd 2022, the Cracow City Council passed a resolution on the establishment of the Low Emission Zone – the Zone will open on July 1st 2024, with the second stage of implementation scheduled for July 1st 2026.

It is worth noting that Cracow was the first Polish city to establish a LEZ. In late 2022, a Zone was opened in the district of Kazimierz, but was dissolved barely three months later, following widespread displays of dissatisfaction by the inhabitants.

Wrocław is working on introducing a LEZ by the end of July 2026 – since July 2023, it has been obliged to do so by voivodeship-level air quality protection regulations. In 2022, the city authorities commissioned the Polish Alternative Fuels Association to conduct measurements of real transport pollution and analyses of the possible form of the LEZ.

As a result, three scenarios each for the geographic scope and resrtictions were presented for facultative social consultations, which were conducted between March 30th and April 30th 2023. Subsequent stages of tightening entry requirements are proposed for 2028 and 2032 in all the variants.

Currently, a report on the public consultations that took place in spring 2023 is being prepared. Further consultations, taking into account the residents’ requests and changes in the law, are planned for autumn 2023.

(illustration: press materials of the Ministry of Infrastructure)