Drivers protest against Lisbon’s anti-pollution blockade

Around 250 ‘old cars’ were driven slowly through Lisbon’s downtown area last Sunday in protest to what many see as an attack on the capital’s poorest.

At issue are strict anti-pollution laws which mean cars registered before 1996 are no longer welcome in many parts of the city.

As we reported last year (see:, the restrictions are two-fold.

Drivers with pre-96 vehicles are banned during weekdays (7am to 9pm) from the areas between Ceuta, Forças Armadas, Estados Unidos da América and Infante D. Henrique avenues, while no cars older than 2000 are allowed in the capital’s old Baixa district or along Avenida da Liberdade.

Anyone flouting the bans faces stiff fines. Lisbon mayor and leader of the Socialist Party, António Costa, claims the restrictions are needed to reduce pollution levels. He has intimated that the new laws will free the capital from as many as 100,000 vehicles per day, but opponents are outraged – particularly as old buses, taxis and other public vehicles skip the restrictions. Also exempt are classic cars, motorcycles and people with conditioned mobility.

As protest organiser Tiago Nunes told Expresso: “We want the Câmara to revoke this decision and have a discussion instead about what we can do effectively to reduce pollution in Lisbon.

“It makes no sense getting a vehicle through its MOT to be told it is not welcome in the capital’s centre,” explained protester Rui Cóias. “António Costa should be able to see that not everyone can afford a new car.”

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]