The outcome of the legal dispute between the Organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and several cities in NRW, which is going into the home stretch in the middle of this week, is awaited with excitement.
After the decision was already made in January for the cities of Bonn and Dortmund, the next two days will see the pronouncement of judgements on similar matters in a total of eight cities in NRW. In all of these cities, the DUH is of the opinion that the requirements of the Clean Air Plan are not being complied with. If the EU limit value for nitrogen emissions is not complied with, the respective cities could in the worst case face reprisals in the form of bans on diesel driving.
First, the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster will rule on the situation in Wuppertal and Hagen tomorrow, Tuesday.
In Wuppertal there are still seven road sections in which the limit values are exceeded, despite decreasing measured values for NO2. The city keeps pointing out that this is not a general problem for the whole area and wishes for alternative solutions to the driving bans.
On Wednesday, the other six cities and municipalities are also expected to reach an arbitration result. In Münster, for example, possible diesel driving bans for the cities of Düren, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Bochum, Bielefeld and Paderborn will be negotiated and decided.
Gelsenkirchen has already achieved a reduction in NO2 values through ambitious measures such as a 6-point plan from 2012, such as the partial closure of certain road sections for heavy trucks in 2015. Bochum, Bielefeld and Paderborn are also trying to reach a compromise and point to falling NO2 values. Wednesday in Münster will show whether the disaster of the diesel driving ban can still be averted and whether one should instead make do with the lesser of two evils in the form of 30 km/h zones or the model of eco-lanes.
The decisions to be taken there are particularly interesting for the state capital Düsseldorf, which has been the subject of media criticism for weeks due to its three environmental lanes. If the conciliation talks for the eight municipalities mentioned above are successful, there will be another, possibly final, dispute pending in Münster over an impending driving ban for Düsseldorf.