SEOUL High-emission vehicles will be restricted from the center of Seoul beginning in July this year, as part of the municipal government's new policy measures to reduce fine dust pollution in the capital, it was announced Monday.

Grade 5 emission vehicles, mostly diesel cars, will be barred from entering Seoul's Green Transport Promotion Zone, a 16.7-square-kilometer downtown area designated within the Joseon Dynasty fortress walls, the government said.

After a five-month grace period, violators will be fined 250,000 won (US$220), beginning Dec. 1.

The stringent driving restrictions will be applied to the 2.45 million vehicles that are classified by the Ministry of Environment as grade 5 emission cars out of the 23 million vehicles registered in the nation.

Municipal officials said grade 5 emission vehicles will likely be banned from entering the green promotion zone from 6 a.m. to 7 or 9 p.m. in consideration of logistics movement and other factors. At present, about 20,000 to 30,000 grade 5 emission cars are estimated to pass through the zone a day.

All owners of grade 5 emission cars will be individually notified of the Seoul government's new driving restrictions by mail.

The latest policy measures came after the average concentration of harmful ultra fine particles in the air of Seoul reached the highest level last month since record-keeping began in 2015.

The government of Seoul also said it will cooperate with private businesses to gradually replace about 100,000 delivery motorcycles with eco-friendly electric motorcycles by 2025. Diesel-powered delivery motorcycles are known to emit at least six times more air pollutants than small passenger cars.

This year, it aims to distribute 1,000 electric motorcycles to franchise and delivery companies.

In addition, the municipal government will replace about 450 diesel-powered village buses with electric buses from next year in cooperation with the central government.

The Seoul government will install a total of 2,500 air quality monitors throughout the city by 2022 and put large-scale construction sites, gas stations, printing factories and other heavy emitters of fine dust under special supervision.

Idling police buses and auto repair shops will be regulated more stringently starting this year, it said.

"Fine dust is a pain in people's lives and a national disaster that threatens the lives of citizens," Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said. "Citizens, as both the biggest victims of fine dust and the subjects of policies, should be prepared to accept lifestyle changes."

Source: Yonhap news Agency