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Norwegian city considers 500 percent toll raise to combat pollution

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Norwegian city considers 500 percent toll raise to combat pollution
File photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB scanpix
15:21 CET+01:00
Authorities in Bergen are considering drastic measures should air quality in the city this week become as poor as forecasts suggest.

The city of Bergen’s committee for air quality (Beredskapsrådet for luftkvalitet) was due to meet on Monday afternoon to discuss measures to combat deteriorating air quality in the southwestern coastal town.

Wind-free weather forecasts this week mean potentially heath-hazardous air quality could settle over the city, reports broadcaster NRK.

Should meteorologists’ predictions become reality, motorists in the city could face a five-fold increase in road tolls from 45 to 225 kroner (4.60 to 23 euros) for cars, according to the report.

Restricting cars to driving into the city every second day according to registration number and free buses as alternative means of transport are further measures being considered.

A number of authorities sit on the air quality committee, including the Urban Environment Agency (Bymiljøetaten), Hordaland District Municipality, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Bergen Harbour.

The Bergensdalen valley, where the city sits on Norway’s southwest coast, is susceptible to a weather phenomenon known as inversion, whereby a layer of cool air at the earth’s surface is overlain by a layer of warmer air.

This means that heavier cold air can become trapped within a geographical area if there are no strong winds to move it, which can be a health hazard if the air is polluted or of poor quality.

Bergen Municipality also resorted to measures against poor air quality last winter.

Any proposed responses to the situation will be approved by the municipality on Tuesday.

“We have received an updated weather forecast from the Meteorological Institute today, which forecasts a risk of high air pollution from Wednesday onwards. There could also be very high pollution after this week,” Bergen Municipality’s climate, culture and business committee chair Julie Andersland told NRK.

The committee will also publish information and advice related to the air pollution in the city, writes NRK.

“Either driving by date [datokjøring in Norwegian, ed.] or increased toll charges are the relevant measures [to be considered]. Toll charges could be increased by a factor of five. It will concurrently be free to use city buses and the light rail,” Andersland said. 

READ ALSO: Oslo to hit drivers' wallets to combat air pollution

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