shadow over Stuttgart woodland road

Stuttgart’s shoddy air quality plan prompts court ultimatum

Stuttgart has two weeks to come up with a suitable air quality plan or will face fines, its regional court has ruled.

The judge decided late last night that Stuttgart’s last-minute submission, which introduced a ‘mini-ban’ on older Euro 3 and 4 standard vehicles, but exempted residents, is wholly inadequate and does not answer to February’s ruling from the Federal Administrative Court.

The hearing came after Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), which brought the original case with ClientEarth against Stuttgart, followed up when no appropriate action was taken by Stuttgart following the February ruling.

ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “Stuttgart’s lacklustre attempts to produce a plan that actually tackles illegal air pollution fly in the face of Germany’s highest court, which explicitly ruled in February that the city must introduce comprehensive diesel bans to bring pollution levels down, including a ban on all Euro 5 diesel vehicles from next year.

“The court has now issued a clear ultimatum: Stuttgart’s leadership must do everything possible to solve its pollution problem, or it will face sanctions.

“Home to several key car manufacturers, Stuttgart is Germany’s diesel heartland, and the authorities are doubtless worried about what political signal a crackdown would send. But the authorities need to show some respect for the people being forced to breathe toxic and illegal pollution day in, day out and do all that is necessary to combat it.

“This rap across the knuckles from the regional court is hopefully the last chapter in Stuttgart’s saga of avoiding taking appropriate action on air quality.”

Remo Klinger, the lawyer representing DUH in its clean air actions, said: “After the hearing in this case, no one can argue that it’s unclear what the court is asking Stuttgart’s authorities to do.”

The judge himself reminded the authorities that they are to protect people, and not the interests of the car industry.

Jürgen Resch, DUH CEO, said: “The shortcomings in Stuttgart’s latest amendments to its air quality plan makes it clear that this government is still being heavily influenced by the interests of the car manufacturers. Why else is this green-black regional government so adamantly refusing to take the necessary measures to guarantee clean air in Stuttgart?”

Taddei added: “People in Stuttgart, and further across Europe, should rest assured: we will continue to fight the battle for clean air in the courts until governments take strong action to protect people’s health.”

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Andreas Praefcke