Diesel driving bans to hit 1st German city
Speaking to Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper, the state ministry of transport said it saw no way of avoiding driving bans, as part of a wider package of policies to lower urban nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.
However, by saying this, the ministry directly contradicted recent statements by the federal government in Berlin which sought to reassure diesel owners that they would not be affected by driving bans.
Baden-Wuerttemberg is governed by a coalition between the Greens (Gruene) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parties, led by state prime minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens).
So far, CDU politicians in Kretschmann's cabinet have consistently rejected calls for driving bans, highlighting the importance of the state as the longstanding home of leading automotive producers in Germany such as Daimler and Porsche.
The federal government in Berlin has said at least 20 major cities in Germany will fail to comply with EU clean air regulation by 2020 due to high NOx levels.
According to the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), diesel vehicles are the major source of NOx pollution which poses risks to human pulmonary health.
A widely-publicized ruling by the Federal Administrative Court has identified driving bans as an appropriate response to ensure that German cities comply with European Union (EU) clean air regulations.
The judges rejected legal appeals launched by the states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Baden-Wuerttemberg after the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf were successfully sued by the German environmental organization German Environmental Relief (DUH) for failing to sufficiently protect citizens from traffic-related pollution.
As a consequence of the verdict, the state ministry of transport now believes it is left with little choice than to prevent the most polluting types of diesel cars from entering densely-populated areas affected by excessive NOx emissions levels like Stuttgart's inner city.
The government of Baden-Wuerttemberg is currently awaiting a more detailed written justification of the court verdict as the basis for the formulation of a clean-air action plan.
Depending on the outcome, the first driving bans could enter into force from 2019 onwards. ■