The ZPA environmental zone Arve valley

On February 23, 2017, the prefect of the department Haute-Savoie (Annecy) announced that the Arve valley would be turned into an area of air protection ZPA. This will severely affect trucks driving in the French Alps, between Geneva, Chamonix and eventually Italy. Trucks are responsible for most of the air pollution in the sensitive area of the Arve river’s valley. 
It is expected for the prefect to publish a decree, making this measure for the protection of air quality legally binding.
The highway A40, which goes along the Arve valley, is the most travelled road between northern Europe and Italy. This highway leads to the Mont Blanc tunnel, which is crossed by 5,000 trucks every day. The geographical location of the Arve valley, which lies deep between two high mountain tops, contributes to the lack of wind, which in turn causes the fine dust to stay longer than usual in the valley’s air.

Traffic restrictions are dependent on air pollution

For the moment, traffic restrictions shall only affect trucks over 7,5 tons and corresponding to the Euro Norm 0 until 3. In case of air pollution peak (>80 µg/m³), these vehicles will not be allowed to drive through the valley. Vehicles with a Crit’Air vignette 5 will be excluded from traffic in any case. Those with a vignette 4 will only be excluded in some cases, depending on fuel type.
According to the authorities, private vehicles are not affected by this regulation. Nonetheless, the Crit’Air vignette will be made mandatory to drive through the valley in order to allow a change at any chosen time. This will allow to restrict all traffic, including cars and motorcycles, in case of a peak of air pollution.

The area of air protection zone of the Arve valley and the Mont Blanc tunnel

This measure will affect the 41 cities and municipalities of the 2012 air protection plan of the Arve valley, which are located along the 80 km of the course of the river, between the municipality of Contamine-sur-Arve at the crossing of the A40 and the A410 and the Arve source behind the town of Argentière (municipality of Le Tour).
The traffic affected by this environmental zone will thus be restricted between the crossing of the A40 and A419 on the A40 until Le Fayet, as well as further on the N205 until the bifurcation to the Mont Blanc tunnel, and on the N1506 to Chamonix and Argentière.

The A40 exit from Geneva, in addition, is the main route to the Mont Blanc tunnel, which is crossed by vehicles driving to Turin and Milan through Le Fayet and the national road N205.
In this context, it is of particular importance that the French minister for the environment, Ségolène Royale, has started a dialogue with the Italian government aimed at declaring the whole French side of the N205—so from Arve of Les Pelerins until the Mont Blanc tunnel—as an environmental zone. In this case, all traffic to and from Italy will be affected. An alternative route will thus not be available any longer.

You can find a list of all the affected municipalities for every case here.