German cities and towns have been told they can ban diesel cars to protect the health of their citizens.
The country’s Federal Administrative Court upheld a lower court’s decision that local authorities can act when air pollution massively exceeds allowable levels.
Stuttgart and Dusseldorf previously said they wanted to ban diesels, but they were challenged by other local authorities who wanted Germany’s national government to bring in laws first.
Stuttgart has said it intends to stop vehicles that have a lower rating than Euro 6 using its streets from 1 September, 2019.
The court in Germany ruled that cities that implement a ban would not need to compensate drivers for being unable to use their diesel vehicles.
Other German states, cities and communities will be now also be able to bring in similar bans to that being implemented in Stuttgart without needing the permission of Germany’s federal government.
ClientEarth’s lead clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “The win is a tremendous result for people’s health in Germany and may have an impact even further afield.”
The mayor of Munich said he may use the powers as his city was one of 70 in Germany which failed its air quality targets in 2017.
The Federal government said it remained committed to preventing any bans being brought into force.
Environment minister Barbara Hendricks said: “My goal is and remains that driving bans should never have to come into force, because we can manage to keep the air clean in other ways.”
Stuttgart said it needed to bring in a ban because it had experienced the worst for air pollution in Germany for nearly a decade.
Car industry manufacturers such as Daimler are located in the area.
Concerns over air pollution have intensified since 2015 when Volkswagen was exposed to have been designing engines that tricked the emissions testing system – a scandal known as dieselgate.
German motor manufacturers’ representative body the VDA said “new paths” were being taken after the scandal and urged local authorities not to ‘confuse drivers’.
Most areas of Germany recorded average of nitrogen dioxide levels that were above EU thresholds in 2017.
A number of other cities around Europe, including Athens and Copenhagen, have said they intend to ban diesel cars by 2025.
In the UK, London mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the T-charge last November for those vehicles which do not reach the standard of the Euro 4/IV.
The UK Government confirmed in its recent 25-year environment plan it would ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2040.