The state government of NRW wants to appeal against the judgment of the Administrative Court of Cologne. The court had imposed a driving ban on the Belderberg and Reuterstrasse in Bonn, as well as parts of Cologne.
By Rüdiger Franz, 09.11.2018
The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia wants to appeal against the verdict of the Cologne administration. Minister of Environment, Ursula Heinen-Esser (CDU), said Thursday that a driving ban "would have a huge impact on residents, commuters and the entire business location of the city of Cologne." The General Court did not explain the question of the proportionality of such a substantial decision. "That's why we appeal, of course."
The Administrative Court had decided on Thursday that driving restrictions should be introduced in Cologne and Bonn from April next year. In Cologne the ban concerns the entire green environmental zone, in Bonn two particularly polluted roads. The German environmental aid had already won diesel bans in court in several other cities because the nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air violate the legal limits. The driving ban will take effect if the limits for nitrogen dioxide are still exceeded.
Belderberg and Reuterstraße
In Cologne, according to the verdict, the ban concerns the entire green environmental zone. In Bonn, the prohibition to drive Belderberg relates to diesel vehicles with Euro 4 engines and older and petrol in the classes Euro 1 to 3. On the Reuterstraße the driving ban includes diesel vehicles with engines up to Euro-5 and petrol engines of the Euro 1 class and 2. In addition In view of the situation on the Belderberg, the city bus fleet must be equipped in time with so-called SCRT filters, which should reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides.
The court has obliged the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia to complete the clean air plan for Bonn by 1 April 2019 at the latest. In support of the ruling, the court stated that the current Clean Air Plan of June 2012 does not provide sufficient measures to improve the air situation to meet the limit. This also applies to the preparation of an update of the Clean Air Plan, which has been available since 15 October 2018. An appeal against the judgments was allowed.
In Cologne the EU limit value for the harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been clearly exceeded – instead of the permitted 40 micrograms per cubic meter in the annual average, it was up to 62 micrograms in 2017. In Bonn the value was up to 47 micrograms. The German environmental aid had therefore complained about the fact that air pollution from nitrogen oxides could lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The objective of the clean air plan must be to meet the limit value for nitrogen dioxide in the long term.
Bonn & # 39; s OB Sridharan criticizes car manufacturers
Bonn's Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan was angry and described the verdict as a "hard blow to the population and the business location." The city of Bonn had spoken out against driving bans and argued that a driving ban on the Reuterstrasse, for example, was unacceptable because of its importance as one of the city's main traffic arteries. It is unclear how the driving restrictions can now be enforced. "Now we have the worst case," says Sridharan. "If hardware upgrades for automakers were on time, we did not have the problem." Sridharan announced that the city government is entering into a dialogue with employers, transport, the environment and business organizations on how to deal with the situation. Head of the planning department Helmut Wiesner was pessimistic at the council in the evening: he does not believe that the court of appeal, the higher administrative court of Münster, will correct the verdict. "I assume that this measure affects us, unless it is a miracle," Wiesner said.
Mayor Henriette Reker van Keulen pointed out that not only traffic contributes to air pollution, but "especially shipping traffic and the surrounding industry". Reker also emphasized that driving bans should not bring the city and the local economy to a standstill. At the same time, however, we must not cease to continue the mobility change and continue all other related measures with vigor, "Reker said.
Richter finds air pollution unacceptable
During the hearing on Thursday, presiding judge Michael Huschens made it clear at an early stage that he considers the level of air pollution unacceptable. Since 2010, the EU limits have been in force and have since been torn apart – "the child has been in trouble for nine years," he said. And the longer it is in the pit, the harder measures should be taken. Huschens referred to the federal administrative court's ruling in February, which had declared diesel bans generally admissible.
In addition, there was a reprimand from the president for the local authorities and the district administration, because they apparently still have written pleadings at the post office of the court on Wednesday evening, although the appointment has been known since July. However, a view of the country is apparently lacking. "We did not like that," says Huschens.
As prognostically and partly well calculated, the DUH criticized the plans for clean air. When the president also opposed the municipalities with the future reference of their optimistic figures ("a large part of the future tense"), many people in the room already suspected that this day could develop.
"The federal government has been ignoring the problem for years," said Bonn & # 39; s member of the Bundestag Katja Dörner (Alliance 90 / The Greens). In Bonn alone, more than 33,000 diesel cars were the Emission Standard Euro 4 and Euro 5. Older wagons and commuter traffic to the city are not included. Nearly 66,000 diesel cars are reported in the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis at the exhaust emission standard Euro 4 and Euro 5. "The city has to pay for the passivity of the federal government, it now needs the blue badge, so it's clear who is allowed to drive in the city and who does not, "says Dörner." Now, "mandatory hardware retrofits must be carried out at the expense of the manufacturer." Clean air must not be a luxury. "
"The fact that the courts of Cologne and Bonn have decided this way is only consistent, the main responsibility for this disaster lies with the federal government," said Rolf Beu, group leader of the Greens in the regional council of the district government of Cologne. It now needs to be worked more consistently on a "turnaround in traffic". Not only should cities improve their local public transport timetables, but also use more electric buses.
Further success for German environmental support
The verdict is another success for the DUH, which insists that the EU's limit values, which have been in force since 2010, are complied with and believes that driving bans are the only effective means of doing so. Several courts followed the concerns of environmentalists and ordered a driving ban in cities such as Hamburg, Berlin or Frankfurt.