The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany has ruled that German cities can ban older diesel vehicles from areas worst affected by pollution. The decision came after appeals against bans in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf.

Analysts have said that this decision could set the precedent for other cities in Germany and ultimately the rest of Europe to follow suit. DUH, an environmental group, said that last year around 70 cities in Germany exceeded the nitrogen oxide limits set by the European Union. The decision has been celebrated by environmental campaigners.

The news hasn’t been universally well-received, however. Germany is home to the largest car market in Europe and around 15 million diesels are registered there. Of these, the majority do not meet the emissions standards likely to be set by the bans. Cars aren’t the only vehicles that could be affected. Many service vehicles, buses and HGVs also use diesel. The court advised cities to “exercise proportionality” in enforcing the bans and to consider exemptions for vehicles such as ambulances and other service vehicles.

There is also concern about how this might affect the value of certain vehicles with those older diesels more likely to depreciate rapidly.

The German government was opposed to the bans and has now tried to reassure concerned diesel owners following the decision. It has said that the ban is not inevitable and could still be avoided.

Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, said: “The court has not issued any driving bans but created clarity about the law. Driving bans can be avoided, and my goal is and will remain that they do not come into force.”

 

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