Stuttgart diesel ban timetable not enough for DUH as it launches enforcement action

28 March 2018

28 March 2018

The German city of Stuttgart could start to ban diesel cars from its roads by as early as next year, following a court case ruling.

In order to deal with emissions levels, and following a case that saw the city forced to impose bans on oil-burners within its limits, vehicles with engines classified as Euro 1-4 could be forced off the roads in Stuttgart from 1 January 2019. A year later, the ban would also be applied to Euro 5 vehicles.

However, this timetable may change as it needs to be ratified by the coalition government, even though the February court ruling has enshrined the bans into law.

The decision concerning the ban may not be enough for the environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) which brought the court action against the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. It has threatened to take further legal action and has launched an enforcement action to compel authorities to set restrictions on diesel vehicles in place.

ClientEarth, which supported the DUH in the court action, said that after the federal ruling, authorities in Baden-Wurttemberg said plans for a driving ban would need to go through a parliamentary debate first, calling into question whether they would be implemented at all. ′When pressed for confirmation on whether diesel bans would be introduced regardless, no satisfactory response was given before today’s noon deadline,’ the group said in an email to the Financial Times.

JÜrgen Resch, chief executive of DUH, added: ′After the botched attempt to appeal the original ruling, it’s now time that bans on dirty diesel are put in place in Stuttgart so that people can finally stop suffering from the effects of harmful diesel exhaust fumes.’

However, an evaluation of air quality in Stuttgart has revealed that nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels in the city have improved during the first two and a half months of the year. NOX particles can cause health problems and are the reason behind the implementation of bans. Newer diesel vehicles are fitted with particulate filters and subject to stricter emissions testing, while older models do not offer such preventative measures.

According to an evaluation by the CAR Centre of the University of Duisburg-Essen, using information from the Federal Environmental Agency, levels of NOx have dropped, although they still exceed the EU limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air at 32 critical points. For the whole of 2017, the measurement was high at 52 points.

Reasons for the development were not mentioned in the report, but favourable weather conditions are not excluded. According to cautious projections, the limit values ″‹″‹are likely to be exceeded in five major German cities during the current year, writes study leader Ferdinand Dudenhöffer. Specifically, these are Munich, Kiel, Stuttgart, Cologne and Hamburg. Driving bans on diesel vehicles imposed by municipalities to improve air quality can therefore still not be ruled out.