German Federal Administrative Court Approves Of Diesel Car Ban - Cases BVerwG 7 C 26.16 BVerwG 7 C 30.17

On Tuesday 27 February 2018, the German Federal Administrative court largely approved of measures taken in Duesseldorf and Stuttgart to ban Diesel cars from driving in particular areas of the cities. Earlier, lower administrative courts obliged the federal governments of North-Rhine Westphalia and Baden Wuertemberg to change their respective air quality plans, which feature measures to lower the NO2 concentration in ambient air in big cities. The two states appealed the decisions, but now lost in front of the Federal Administrative Court. The court pointed out that bans for Diesel cars in particular areas of German cities have to be implemented by the governments, but that such bans have to be proportionate.

The case is a major win for the environmental groups Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German environmental aid or DUH) and ClientEarth, which repeatedly pointed out that European law actually obliged governments to impose bans on Diesel cars. However, the court pointed out that such bans have to be proportionate and could, therefore, have to be confined in scope and scale. Only Diesel cars that do not meet the EURO-6 emission class can be subjected to bans. Also, bans cannot be applied to the entire territory of cities, but have to be very specific for particular streets. Moreover, bans have to be phased in slowly (they may not be fully in force before 1 September 2019) and there have to be exceptions for, inter alia, craftsmen and local residents.

The press release of the German Federal Administrative (German language version only) is available here. An English newspaper report of the Guardian can be found here.


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