Madrid Central, the low-emission zone designed by former mayor Manuela Carmena in 2018, will enter 2022 with a new name and several modifications that will allow 45,000 more vehicles, after the approval of the new mobility ordinance by José Luis Martínez Almeida and a series of judicial ups and downs.
The new Madrid Central de Almeida comes into force: guide to know all the restrictions
Now Madrid Central is called the Central District and merchants enjoy rights similar to those of residents, but the perimeter of the area and most of the restrictions have not been modified.
And this despite the fact that the Supreme Court ratified the annulment of the measure, ultimately saved by the same person who brought it to court and who promised to repeal it in the 2019 electoral campaign: the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida ( PP).
The news of the definitive annulment fell like a bomb on May 11, although the Supreme Court did nothing but confirm, by inadmissible an appeal by Ecologists in Action, what the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) had already ruled in July 2020: cancel Madrid Central due to formal defects, by not complying with the essential process of public information and the essential financial report prior to the approval of the ordinance.
At first, chaos spread: the municipal government of the PP and Cs recommended that citizens act as if Madrid Central was still in force and charged the inks against Manuela Carmena’s previous team for what they considered a “botch”. He also argued, at first, that the fines already collected or, failing that, communicated to the sanctioned person – a total of 1,393,000 – would not be returned.
Just two days later, Almeida announced the provisional stoppage of the imposition of fines, although the cameras remained on to register potential offenders.
Then the mayor said that the presentation of an incident of execution of sentence – which then remained in the drawer for months – was being finalized before the TSJM so that it could clarify whether, once the cancellation of the low emissions zone was ratified, it should stop the processing of sanctions immediately.
Meanwhile, the first judicial tangents loomed: on May 19, a court in the capital annulled two fines imposed after the first annulment sentence of the TSJM.
The situation forced the municipal government to accelerate the preparation of its already planned reform of the sustainable mobility ordinance, in order for it to enter into force before the City Council was forced to execute the Supreme Court ruling.
The new mobility ordinance
The draft of the rule was approved by the Governing Board on May 27, and proposed a Central Madrid with minor modifications. A new figure was introduced, the Zone of Low Emissions of Special Protection (ZBEDEP), which in principle would be Plaza Elíptica and Distrito Centro, the latter copying the perimeter of Central Madrid.
The novelties in this low-emission zone were to equate the 15,000 merchants in the area with the residents; allow the circulation of motorcycles for one more hour, until 11:00 p.m. (which was not included in the final text), and delay until December 31, 2022, the limitation of access to freight vehicles with environmental label B and more than 3,500 kilos of weight, giving one more year of margin than initially planned.
The proposal met with the expected rejection of the left (Más Madrid and PSOE) but also that of Vox, investiture partner of the municipal government, which he understood as a betrayal that Almeida broke his word to repeal Madrid Central.
This not only complicated the approval of the ordinance, but was the germ of the fracture between Almeida and Vox spokesman Javier Ortega Smith, a disagreement that has marked the second political semester of the year in the City Council and threatens to condition what Legislature remains.
But the mayor found an unexpected ally: in the absence of Vox’s four votes, he got those of the four councilors who had left Más Madrid months before -all of them former members of the Carmena government- and who in the summer insisted on becoming a mixed group .
Once the judicial obstacles to its creation were solved, the mixed group supported Almeida and the reform of the ordinance, and with it the Central District, saw the light on September 13, five days before the end of the term that the TSJM had given to the City Council to execute the cancellation of Madrid Central.
The ordinance came into force on September 22, although the Central District did not begin to be operational from the first moment. Despite the close similarity to the preceding Low Emission Zone, it took the City Council two weeks to update the camera system, and then there was a two-month ‘notice phase’ during which offenders were registered but not fined. , receiving only one notification by letter.
Thus, the Central District has been at full capacity since December 11, after a ‘notice phase’ in which 87,667 letters were sent to offenders who, under normal conditions, would have been sanctioned with a fine of 90 euros (45 per I’ll pay soon).
The Consistory has highlighted that, despite the fact that the traffic in the city was already at the levels prior to the pandemic, the daily average of improper access already fell in October compared to the same month of 2019.
The mobility news map was complete at the end of the year: on December 22, the low-emission zone of Plaza Elíptica came into operation (also with a two-month ‘notice phase’), and from this Saturday, December 1 In January, cars without an environmental badge of those not registered in Madrid will be prohibited from circulating on the interior roads of the M-30.
Nor does it seem that the Central District and the new ordinance will have a placid existence. Vox and Más Madrid have opened the judicial process against the norm and, although the precautionary stay that Vox requested has already been rejected, the threat of a new litigation will hang in the air for now.