Environmental campaign group ClientEarth is involved in fresh legal action against 11 German cities over failure to meet air pollution limits.
The cases are being brought by the law charity and German consumer organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), follow on from a successful challenge by the two organisations in Germanyâ€™s national court last month over diesel bans in Stuttgart and DÃ¼sseldorf (see airqualitynews.com story).
Legal cases were launched last week against the cities of Backnang, Esslingen, Heilbronn, Ludwigsburg, Marbach, Reutlingen, Offenbach, Bochum, Dortmund, DÃ¼ren and Paderborn.
These follow additional cases launched by the two organisations in Berlin, Bonn, Darmstadt, DÃ¼sseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Halle, Hannover, Kiel, KÃ¶ln, Limburg, Mainz, Munich, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden.
The two groups are calling on the cities to implement measures to bring air pollution within legal limits in the soonest possible timeframe â€“ including potentially considering bans on diesel vehicles in some instances.
Commenting on the action, ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton, said: â€œThe Federal Administrative Courtâ€™s ruling was unambiguous â€“ German authorities have the power and the duty to restrict diesel to comply with air pollution law. Prolonging the inevitable is a breach of authoritiesâ€™ legal duty to protect the people of Germany against harmful air pollution.
â€œPoliticians must put peopleâ€™s health first. Germanyâ€™s highest court has cleared the way for diesel restrictions. Itâ€™s time to stop pandering to industry, and start fighting for people instead.â€
DUH chief executive, JÃ¼rgen Resch said: â€œHow can it be that politicians at regional and national level are still failing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are still breathing dirty air? Legal limits have been exceeded since 2010, but protests, complaints from citizens, EU legal action against Germany and the judgment from Germanyâ€™s own highest court, are all being ignored to cushion the diesel industry â€“ at the cost of the health of countless people.
â€œWe call on all those responsible for air quality in these 28 towns with illegal pollution to adopt all possible measures to ensure air quality complies with legal limits by Autumn 2018. If not, further legal action will follow this year.â€
ClientEarth has previously led successful actions against the UKâ€™s governmentâ€™s air quality plans, including a recent case, which saw the government forced to widen the scope of its July 2017 plan, to include 33 additional authorities (see airqualitynews.com story).