“Hardly feasible” City of Bonn views diesel ban with concern

Bonn · A landmark federal court ruling means German cities will have the right to ban some diesel cars. The City of Bonn views the ban with concern. Mayor Sridharan says air quality can be improved with other measures.

The judgement of the Leipzig federal court, ruling that a diesel driving ban is generally admissible in cities, was met in Bonn with disapproval. Bonn Mayor Ashok Sridharan said the decision does not mean that from tomorrow on, all diesel vehicles will be banned from Bonn city center. “However, the likelihood that the district government of Cologne would order diesel bans for Bonn’s Clean Air Plan would increase if the nitrogen oxide limits can not be met otherwise.”

But authorities want to prevent this from happening at all. “We will try everything possible, so that it does not come to driving restrictions,” said Vanessa Nolte, press spokesperson for the district government of Cologne. The first step is that responsible authorities are examining all measures planned for improving air quality in the affected cities under the district government - i.e. Cologne, Bonn, and Aachen.

In addition, they also want to take a look at issues that would be related to such a diesel ban such as costs incurred as a result. According to the ruling in Leipzig, diesel driving bans would not be possible until September of 2019, said Nolte.

“Hardly feasible and impossible to control”

In case it would really come to the ban, Bonn’s mayor sees another problem: “Such driving bans would hardly be feasible and impossible to control.” Udo Schott also considers a comprehensive police control throughout the city to be impossible. “No resources would be available for this new task,” said the chair of the Bonn group of the police union.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce Bonn/ Rhine-Sieg and the Cologne Chamber of Handicrafts view the Leipzig ruling with concern. Ortwin Weltrich is chief executive of the latter organization and sees the potential of employment issues and revenue losses for businesses in the affected cities and the surrounding areas. “We employ around 190,000 people in the local trades, and the drop in orders resulting from the driving ban would also jeopardize jobs,” he said. In addition, the supply of goods and services to residents in those areas affected, would no longer be guaranteed.

Economically difficult

Similar arguments were also used by Hubertus Hille, managing director of the Chamber of Commerce Bonn/ Rhine-Sieg. Many small and medium-sized companies would find it financially difficult to renew their transportation fleets and commuters need to ensure they can reach their jobs, he stressed. From his point of view, the only thing that would please him is exemptions granted by the court.

City sees industry and government as responsible

The City of Bonn sees it as the duty of the auto industry and the federal government to respond. Besides that, it relies on a set of measures to improve air quality - from the expansion of public transport to the conversion of public buses. But these processes take time.

"Compared to driving bans that only shift the emission of pollutants, most of these solutions have the advantage that they sustainably reduce emissions in cities and improve overall mobility," says Stephan Wimmers, Managing Director of the Chamber of Commerce Bonn / Rhine-Sieg.

Orig. text: Daniela Greulich, Translation: ck

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