VDA President: Not so easy to impose driving bans for diesels – measures agreed on at the diesel summit and city initiatives must be taken into account – important move towards a more objective debate – air quality already improved measurably
‘With its ruling, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court (BVG) has taken an important step towards a more objective debate and underscored the fact that special consideration should be given to the principle of proportionality when upgrading clean air plans and thus possibly enforcing diesel bans in cities. The measure must be appropriate and reasonable for the parties concerned,' said Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
When it comes to a 'large-scale coherent traffic network consisting of multiple major and minor roads (designated zone bans),' the Federal Administrative Court has set strict criteria. Its rationale is that not only would these bans affect drivers that are no longer allowed to enter them, they would prohibit the vehicles concerned from parking in public spaces. For car drivers who do not live in the given area, zone exclusion constitutes a 'substantial encroachment on their basic personal freedoms’ (Art. 2 (1) German Basic Law GG). The Stuttgart ruling states that, ‘Compliance with the principle of proportionality is a must and prohibits the imposition of such far-reaching traffic bans without due consideration for the economic consequences that ensue for the people concerned.'
'The Federal Administrative Court's ruling makes it clear: It's not about imposing general driving bans, but about determining whether there is actually any need for corresponding local measures in order to satisfy ambient air quality standards,' says Mattes. With respect to all those who have endeavoured to undermine motorists’ confidence in recent months, the court states that, 'Driving bans will only be considered for a fraction of Germany's road network and then limited only to a few conurbations.'
According to Mattes, the court's statement, whereby the respective agencies have to take account of interim advances made in curbing excessive limit values is particularly important. 'We assume that annual average NOx concentrations in Germany will drop significantly in the near future, as the measures agreed on with the German government at the diesel summit are taking hold. On top of this, manufacturers are driving forward fleet renewal with their trade-in offers – last year alone 1.1 million new Euro 6 diesels were registered – and we have initiatives with cities whose nitrogen oxide values are still clearly above the annual mean. Our approach is thus not indiscriminate but deliberately targets the critical issues. There will be no driving bans at all for Euro 5 vehicles until September 2019. I'm convinced that by then we'll see a clear improvement in the values measured. And, in keeping with the Court's ruling, the cities will have to take that into consideration' says Mattes.