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Deutsche Umwelthilfe wins landmark case on air quality

The Bavarian ministry of the environment has to provide an immediately effective air quality plan for the city Munich. This is the consequence of a legal action conducted by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental aid, DUH) before the Bavarian Higher Administrative Court.

In February 2012 the environmental and consumer protection association had filed a lawsuit against the state of Bavaria, because of persistent excess of limit values for NO2. The Bavarian Administrative Court decided on 9 October 2012, that the state of Bavaria has to change the air quality plan, so that these measures will meet the limit values. The state has appealed to the Bavarian Higher Administrative Court. After the Court announced in advance to reject the appeal the state of Bavaria accepted and withdraw only two days before. Therefore the judgment of the first instance is legally binding.

Almost all major roads in the city center of Munich show exceedances of the limit values for nitrogen dioxide. The air quality plan for the city applies since December 2004 and has been updated four times. Disappointing is the prediction of the ministry of environment, after which the limit values will not been met before 2030 with the measures taken so far.

The state of Bavaria has to implement measures that are necessary for a fast compliance with limit values. The DUH proposes a consistent lockout of unfiltered diesel vehicles, funding programs for retrofitting for public transport, a citizens ticket in the public transport and in the long term a tunnel under the Landshuter Allee. In addition it would be necessary to expand the environmental zone to the entire city. If the state does not fulfill its legally binding obligations the DUH will enforce the judgment.

Also in other countries the awareness of local authorities to implement effective air quality measures has to be raised through legal actions. Yesterday the Austrian environmental organisations ÖKOBÜRO, GLOBAL 2000, VCÖ, Greenpeace and ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde Umwelt filed an “application for enactment of measures to comply with the immission limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2)” against the Region of Salzburg. In Salzburg the national an European limit values for NO2 are exceeding since many years. The main polluter is the traffic, especially the diesel vehicles. Simple measures such as the expansion of public transport, the promotion of walking and cycling as well as the introduction of a Low emission zone and speed limits the harmful emissions can be significantly reduced.

You will find more information about the litigation on air quality on the website.