Paris bans old cars in air pollution crackdown

Paris banned old cars from its streets today in a bid to crackdown on air pollution.

Any car registered before 1997 - excluding vintage vehicles - will be barred in the city centre between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.

Anyone caught breaking the rules will be issued with a €35 fine for their first offence. This will increase in January to €68 for private cars and €135 for trucks.

Air pollution kills 48,000 people a year in France and around 3.7 million worldwide, according to figures from the French public health agency.

A leaflet telling drivers about the ban - introduced the same day France banned plastic bags. Credit: Reuters

In the UK, air pollution has been linked to 40,000 early deaths a year and plans to follow Paris' lead are in motion.

By 2020, Clean Air Zones will be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

However, these will not include private cars but the most polluting vehicles such as old diesel buses, taxis, coaches and lorries.

In London, plans are in place to develop an ultra-low emission zone by 2020, which includes retro-fitting of buses and licensing new taxis to be zero emission free by 2018.

Smog surrounds the city of London. Credit: Reuters

Some car owners hit in Paris back at the ban - introduced on the same day France banned plastic bags - by parking outside the National Assembly and Champs Elysees avenue in protest.

Marc Martin, who uses his Peugeot van for deliveries, said: "I drive 50km a week. I don't have the means to change vans so I will continue using it and I'll get fined every week, there you go.

"And if it goes too far, I'll close my business, people will lose their jobs, that's it. What can I say, not much. This law is pathetic."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the ban could be extended in 2020 to include all combustion-engine cars more than nine years old.

More than half a million car owners in Paris are expected to be affected.