The news hit like a bomb yesterday, and the effects could be far-reaching for other cities and municipalities: Leipzig passes judgement on driving ban in Reutlingen.
In its ruling, the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) stated that bans and reprisals in the wake of these restrictions would be disproportionate if the nitrogen oxide limits were foreseeable to be met. This circumstance applies in particular "if, according to a forecast on a sufficiently reliable basis, the limit values will soon be complied with", the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes from the ruling of the Administrative Court in Leipzig yesterday, Thursday (Ref. BVerwG 7 C 3-19).
Leipzig thus contradicts the previous decision of the Administrative Court (VGH) of Baden-Württemberg on the Clean Air Plan in Reutlingen. In March last year, the VGH upheld a complaint by the Organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and condemned the state to immediately initiate plans to establish driving bans.
Yesterday, however, the tenor in Leipzig regarding the Reutlingen case was that a diesel driving ban was not mandatory: "A diesel driving ban can be disproportionate, especially if it is foreseeable that the limit value will soon be met".
According to experts, the judgement is so interesting because it could have an immense signal effect on further negotiations and judgements. The DUH, on the other hand, welcomes yesterday's ruling on Reutlingen, as the court, in a reverse conclusion, provides for a renewed update of the air pollution control plan, which Reutlingen has to comply with. "This is a good day for clean air and the people of Reutlingen. And is it a wake-up call for the green-black state government to finally free itself from the stranglehold of the diesel companies and to ensure that the limit for the diesel exhaust poison nitrogen dioxide is also adhered to this year in Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, Heilbronn and other problem cities," said Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of the DUH, after the verdict was announced.
Do we therefore expect even more confusion around the topics of environmental zones and driving bans; perhaps even environmental traces? Will the driving bans remain in place despite Leipzig's groundbreaking ruling?
So the summer could still be very interesting.