Environmental zones and environmental tracks are currently hanging like a sword of Damocles over several communities and cities in Germany. As displeasure grows in Düsseldorf over the three environmental tracks already installed, representatives of the cities of Bonn and Dortmund have reached an out-of-court agreement with Deutsche Umwelthilfe in Münster, Westphalia.
It is now more than obvious that the German courts are at the end of their patience when it comes to lax compliance with environmental regulations and air pollution control plans. To the layman the situation seems confusing: felt every week there are new applications, decisions, driving ban zones and new legal actions of the German Environmental Aid.
In Dortmund, for example, there will be no large-scale diesel driving bans for the time being. However, the city in the Ruhr area and the state of NRW agreed with Deutsche Umwelthilfe on the installation of an environmental lane and a strict and all-encompassing truck ban on the B1 federal road.
Apart from Dortmund, however, Bonn completely avoids reprisals and gets away with several blue eyes. Only several speed 30 zones and bike commuter routes will be introduced.
The outcome of the legal dispute between the German Environmental Aid Organisation (DUH) and several cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, however, was eagerly awaited.
In the opinion of the DUH, all seven municipalities will not comply with the requirements of the Clean Air Plan.
The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster has ruled on the traffic-related future of these seven cities in NRW. Surprisingly, no driving bans were issued, although there will be individual packages of measures for each city.
A brief overview of the packages of measures mentioned for better understanding
Bielefeld: Hardware conversion of all municipal vehicles; various traffic control measures
Bochum: hardware retrofitting for all buses and municipal vehicles that can be transported; traffic is to be reduced by 20% at certain points by means of traffic counts and subsequent adaptation; new measuring points; expansion of parking spaces
Düren: Efforts to upgrade hardware for buses that can be subsidised; ban on trucks on a main road and reduction of four lanes back to two lanes; increase in the attractiveness of public transport by correcting the city tariff from €2.70 to €1.50
Gelsenkirchen: Efforts to upgrade the hardware of buses eligible for subsidies; truck bans on a main road will be further tightened and subjected to strict controls; bicycle lanes will be promoted
Hagen: Hardware retrofitting for all transportable buses and municipal vehicles; bus lane near main station; 30 km/h speed limit zone to be installed at a prominent location
Oberhausen: all-day truck driving ban on a main road plus installation of two measuring systems there; increase in parking fees
Paderborn: annual public transport ticket for 99 cents per day; tariffs for short trips and school tickets will be reduced from summer; free bus use on the first Saturday of every month
The decisions taken are in turn particularly interesting for the state capital Düsseldorf, which has been the subject of media criticism for weeks due to its three environmental footprints. Is it still possible to turn away from the three environmental footprints retrospectively?