18 May 2017

EU Green Zones - Climate Change Countermeasures or Cash Cows?  

New App Helps Plan a Route Across Europe for Road Haulage and Freight Groups

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Shipping News Feature GERMANY – EUROPE – This month's transport logistic 2017 trade fair held in Munich saw new technology and the digital revolution as the top subject up for discussion and gave visitors the opportunity to gain an insight into many of the advances and proposals to smooth and speed the supply chain. With environmental concerns and behaviour on the menu for every freight and road haulage operation one thing to focus on was the growth of mandatory restrictions in certain areas for vehicles liable to cause pollution through noise or emissions, the so called Green Zones.

The European Commission has already voiced concerns over the complexity of imposing a variety of restrictions city by city and highlighted the risk of creating a fragmented patchwork of urban areas with new 'border lines' across Europe, something which runs directly contrary to the Commission’s intent that ‘local traffic bans or restrictions should not discriminate among vehicles registered in different Member States’ as expressed in a Green Paper a decade ago.

At the Munich event visitors were able to try out a new ‘Green-Zones App’ designed to allow travellers, both private and commercial, to plan routes and journeys in Europe thanks to a map system based on geodata, driving through all environmental zones in Germany, Austria, Denmark and France. The producers claim that use of the app will render fines and delays a thing of the past.

The app allows one to zoom into every environmental zone, down to the destination address and to check the status of each environmental zone in real time and in four languages. In addition, the daily updates on the announcements of local environmental agencies before 21:00 hours allows for planning the possible restrictions or driving bans in those environmental zones that depend on weather conditions. Currently, all information can be found on the desktop. From mid or end June, the suppliers say this information will also be available in smartphone format.

In addition to the permanent environmental zones, there are more and more areas that depend on the current weather situation, where in cases of a nitrogen oxide or fine dust particles alarm, knowing the complicated norms for each type of vehicles is essential to avoid financial and scheduling problems. Continued driving through many of the special zones of air protection is not allowed without a valid badge, or until the concentration of hazardous substances in the air decreases and reaches the levels allowed by the law.

There are several bones of contention with these new areas which, ostensibly, are designed merely to improve health and welfare. Local inhabitants always benefit either by knowing the regulations or by getting a release for vehicles owned and operated within the zones. This means that the authorities can make a steady stream of income from unsuspecting visitors, often international delivery drivers, unaware they are about to enter a forbidden area.

The producers of the Green-Zones App say it offers users the essential information about all current environmental zones where a badge is mandatory, thus making international travellers independent of local information sources, which are always in a different, local language. By ordering the necessary badge at Green-Zones, customers will also receive the app free of charge for one year.

Hopefully this new app, and subsequent technology, will enable visitors to travel freely throughout Europe without the fear they might be transgressing a local restriction of which they have no knowledge.

Photo: Just how many environmental obedience badges can one truck carry?

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