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Environmental zones: exceptions to the driving ban

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B eyebrows claim that it is due to the upcoming state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia: Unpopular measures such as stricter environmental zone regulations would come at an inopportune time. In the Ruhr area as well as in Düsseldorf and Cologne, against this background, the adjusting screws may not have been turned as originally planned at the beginning of the new year.

Access regulations to the environmental zones have already been tightened

'In the second half of 2010, the municipalities and the relevant district government will jointly decide what will happen after December 31, 2010, based on the then current air pollution', says the Internet information page on the environmental zones at 'Ruhrgebiet. All variants are therefore possible in North Rhine-Westphalia: yellow-green or even purely green stickers as Open Sesame, expansion of the environmental zones or doing without them. In contrast, the situation is clearer in many other municipalities. You have already tightened the access regulations in the environmental zones or are planning to do so in the course of the year. Other cities - Bonn, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Münster, Osnabrück and Pfinztal - locked out cars without an environmental sticker for the first time on January 1st. Münster takes the second step at the same time as the first: The environmental zone is also a restricted area for cars with a red sticker.

Short-term measures with permanent effectiveness

There are now 40 environmental zones with entry restrictions in Germany. They are the result of the EU air quality directive, which has been binding for five years, which forced cities to declare war on particulate matter and, since January 1st, also on nitrogen oxides. For this purpose, around 100 air pollution control and action plans have been drawn up across Germany. The latter often include, as so-called short-term measures - that is, quick implementation but lasting effectiveness - the blocking of fine dust-laden streets for trucks . Another measure in the extensive catalogs is the establishment of environmental zones. In addition to Cologne, Berlin and Hanover were the first major cities to act radically and two years ago declared their centers to be a ban mile for cars without badges.

No rulewithout exception

Since January 1st, only vehicles with a green sticker are allowed to enter there. In Hanover, however, this has developed into a political posse: Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Hans-Heinrich Sander wanted to override the Hanoverian new regulations by decree at the beginning of January. A legal aftermath before the administrative court in Hanover is in full swing. However, on January 22nd, the Ministry of the Environment stopped the research of the Environment Minister of Lower Saxony for the time being. This means that the environmental zone in the form decided by the city of Hanover continues to be valid until the final decision of the court. But there is no rule without exception - how the responsible state authorities handle this is up to them and in practice completely different. Only Baden-Württemberg, which has 18 environmental zones, has established uniform rules for them by state ordinance. They are considered to be the most restrictive nationwide.

Private individuals have little chance of an exception

According to the Federal Immission Control Ordinance, exemption permits may be granted if the vehicle cannot be retrofitted with a particle filter possible or uneconomical. In Baden-Württemberg this is tied to special requirements: There are exceptions, among other things, for vehicles that ensure the supply of essential goods such as medicines or services. This also applies to the state capital Stuttgart, where cars with a red sticker have to stay outside from July 1st - 18 months earlier than planned. Private individuals only have the chance to obtain an exemption if, for example, shift work does not allow them to use the bus or train.

Passage bans for trucks are effective against particulate matter

In Augsburg, probably from October 1st, only cars with yellow and green stickers are allowed in the environmental zone run. In addition, at the beginning of 2009 the city issued a driving ban for trucks. According to experts, this is at least as effective against fine dust as driving bans in environmental zones. Exceptions are also made in the Swabian city if retrofitting the vehicle with a filter is not possible or uneconomical. The Augsburgers also turn a blind eye to residents and businesses with their headquarters in the environmental zone. In Bonn, on the other hand, an exemption for residents depends on whether they have a corresponding parking permit. Bremen and Frankfurt am Main, where cars with a red sticker are no longer allowed to drive, grant exceptions for residents whose vehicles cannot be retrofitted.

Ten to twelve percent less particulate matter would be possible

According to calculations by the Federal Environment Agency, only cars with a green sticker are allowed to enter the environmental zones (UBA) ten to twelve percent less fine dust, which is a decrease of 20 dayscorresponds. Berlin and Hanover are also hoping for this, as they only allow cars with green stickers in. The capital of Lower Saxony issues special permits if a soot filter cannot be retrofitted to Euro 3 vehicles. In Berlin, the whole thing is regulated even more unbureaucratically: Euro 3 vehicles for which there is no particle filter are allowed to drive into the environmental zone with a yellow sticker if a certificate from a technical test center is clearly visible in the vehicle that it cannot be retrofitted. The environmental zone of the Bavarian capital Munich, on the other hand, will only be taboo for cars with a red sticker from October 1st.

Which exceptions will be made there should only become clear when the government of Upper Bavaria has waved through the update of the Munich Air Quality and Action Plan by decree. Like the other cities with environmental zones, Munich has very detailed information on the subject on its website.


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