New delivery hours to cut pollution

In a move that had a distinct whiff of last summer’s Olympic Games about it, the government yesterday approved a pollution-fighting scheme which, starting in less than two weeks, will limit the times during which supermarkets and stores in the center of Athens will be able to receive deliveries. According to the decision, signed by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, trucks with a weight capacity above 1.5 tons will not be allowed to make deliveries to supermarkets or to chain and department stores in downtown Athens between 7 and 10.30 a.m. Businesses within the capital’s restricted inner ring, where cars can circulate only on alternate days, will be affected by the new measure, as well as stores on Mesogeion Avenue in the northeast of the city. In its statement, the Public Works Ministry said that the decision to implement this timetable was based on studies that showed air pollution was at its highest during the morning peak-traffic hours. Cutting down on the number of vehicles in circulation would thus help reduce pollution, the ministry said. The scheme is set to begin on May 16 and run until December 31. The government’s plan harks back to last summer’s Olympics when stores and businesses could only accept deliveries between midnight and 6 a.m., as part of a bid to curb traffic and air pollution in the capital while the world’s media and athletes were in town. The government had been toying with the idea of bringing the measure back for some time; last October, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said that he was in favor of reintroducing restrictions on truck deliveries. At the time, the government also decided to keep another Olympic traffic measure, which meant that temporary bans on 43 left turns from main roads were made permanent.