Drivers of older cars will face a severe driving ban in frankfurt am main next year. This is what the administrative court of wiesbaden ruled on wednesday.
According to the ruling, diesel vehicles with euro 4 engines and gasoline vehicles in emissions classes 1 and 2 will initially be affected from february 2019, as presiding judge rolf hartmann said in his statement. From 1. September on, euro 5 diesels are also to be off-limits. Frankfurt is the first city in hesse with a driving ban for diesel vehicles.
The court did not specify the specific areas in which driving bans would be imposed. The driving ban could be based on the existing boundaries of the environmental zone in hesse’s roughest municipality, the judge explained. This is bordered by the autobahn ring around the city. The german environmental aid association (DUH) had filed a lawsuit because of the exceeding of nitrogen oxide limit values. The ruling is not yet legally binding.
Hesse’s minister president volker bouffier (CDU) and environment minister priska hinz (grune) called for a swift reaction from the federal government after the court ruling. "We will examine the court’s ruling very closely, but we believe that the federal government has a duty to do so," the two top hessian politicians said. He must fulfill his responsibility and finally create a legal basis for a hardware upgrade of the affected vehicles. The automotive companies had to pay for this retrofit.
This is the most effective way to improve air quality in cities and comply with EU-wide limits, bouffier and hinz said. This was a relatively quick way to get to grips with the problem. "We don’t want driving bans, but a fundamental solution to the problem."
Frankfurt’s head of transportation, klaus oesterling, regretted the ruling: "driving bans for older diesel vehicles represent a cut in the city’s overall traffic system to an extent never before seen," he said. The municipality now has to "pay for the failures of the automotive industry and the failures of the federal government," he criticized.
The head of the environment department of the rhine-main metropolis, rosemarie heilig, called for "consistent enforcement of the right to clean air at all political levels". From the federal government, she demanded: "finally force the manufacturers to carry out hardware retrofits so that the vehicles do not emit more pollutants in real life than specified during registration."
Federal environment minister svenja schulze increases pressure on transport minister andreas scheuer (CSU) after the ruling. "My colleague in the federal ministry of transport should now finally follow my position and fight against the car industry for hardware retrofits," the SPD politician told the german press agency on wednesday.
Nationwide, there is already a diesel driving ban in hamburg for older diesel driving bans in two particularly affected streets of the hanseatic city. In stuttgart, driving bans are also to apply to older diesel vehicles from the beginning of 2019. The federal administrative court had previously ruled that diesel driving bans in cities are permissible in principle.
Following the ruling by the administrative court, the new air quality plan for frankfurt must be implemented by 1. February 2019 with the mabnehmen come into force. The aim is to reduce air pollution in the city to below the prescribed limits. The court ordered a total of three inspections to make the air in frankfurt cleaner again. In addition to the diesel ban, the bus fleet must be retrofitted with filters. In addition, free park-and-ride parking spaces are to be offered in order to reduce pollution and encourage people to use public transport in the city.
DUH’s complaint was directed against the state, which is responsible for updating the air pollution control plans in the cities of hesse. The plans must ensure that the nitrogen oxide limits are complied with permanently and safely. Following the administrative court’s decision to ban diesel driving in frankfurt, the state must now ensure that it is implemented.
Air pollution caused by nitrogen oxides can trigger or aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, for example. People who live in the city are particularly at risk. Gases also have a harmful effect on animals, plants and soil. Nitrogen oxides are unwanted by-products of car engines – especially diesel – or of the burning of coal, oil, gas, wood and waste. Among other things, they contribute to the formation of fine particulate matter.
"We have to understand that this is about the danger to the health of all of us," the presiding judge had stressed at the start of the proceedings. "Since the turn of the millennium, it has been the task of the state to ensure that limit values are complied with," stressed hartmann and expressed understanding for the complaint. "It is not the hobby of an environmental association that wants to distinguish itself."
The environmental aid organization has filed a lawsuit against four cities in hesse for exceeding nitrogen oxide limits. In addition to hesse’s major city frankfurt, darmstadt, wiesbaden and offenbach are. The environmental aid group had based its complaint on the fact that the limit values could only be complied with through the rapid implementation of short-term effective mabnahmen such as driving bans for dirty diesel vehicles. He hopes that chancellor angela merkel (CDU) will understand the message from hesse and put pressure on the car companies, said jurgen resch, the environmental aid organization’s managing director.