11 July, 2019

Stuttgart holding back on Euro 5 diesel ban

The state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg is resisting the enforcement of a comprehensive Euro 5 diesel ban in Stuttgart.

The city banned Euro 4-based diesel vehicles from the entire Stuttgart area earlier this year. However, it now believes that pollution levels have dropped significantly enough that a blanket ban on Euro 5 diesel cars is no longer required although a ban on specific routes cannot be ruled out.

‘Nitrogen dioxide readings dropped significantly at air measurement stations in 2018 and the first half of 2019,’ head of the Ministry of Transport, Ministerial Director Uwe Lahl, told the German Press Agency. ‘The air has become significantly better,’ he added.

However, the Stuttgart Administrative Court ruled in 2017 that the clean air plan also required the implementation of driving bans for Euro 5 diesels. Since then, environmental campaign group the DUH has been pressing for enforcement of this decision and a €10,000 fine imposed on the state government for its refusal to implement Euro 5 bans.

The state government is defending against this decision and the fine.

Lost cause

The Stuttgart Administrative Court believes that the state government’s defence of its position is ‘hopeless’ and it will need to pay the penalty and succumb to the introduction of Euro 5 diesel bans.

‘The concept presented by the state government does not meet the requirements for fulfilment of the legally binding obligations of the judgment of the Administrative Court of Stuttgart of 27 July 2017,’ it said in a statement.

The DUH demands that the state government introduces zonal driving bans for Euro 5 diesel in its clean air plan, and that these must be implemented as soon as possible. The DUH could now apply for further enforcement measures, including coercive detention, against the responsible politicians as a next step.

The decision to withhold the implementation of Euro 5 bans comes as Madrid reverses its decision to ban diesel vehicles from the city. The new local government in the region has made the decision while it ‘conducts a review’ of the plans. The news sparked a number of protests from environmental groups.

Signs rejected

Meanwhile, the Administrative Court of Mannheim (VGH) has rejected a total of nine complaints about the diesel driving ban in Stuttgart.

The plaintiffs, who live in and outside of Stuttgart and are affected by the driving ban for diesel up to and including Euro 4, have complained about the current signage marking the diesel ban zones. They argue that there is no legal basis for the second sign for the environmental zone and the green sticker, which defines the zone itself, and that the signs violate the traffic law visibility principle. In addition, they claim that the nitrogen dioxide limit is set too low and that the location of the measuring stations is incorrect.