The city of Hamburg is to ban older diesel cars from two of its busiest streets next week as it seeks to get rising air pollution under control.
The move by Germany’s second-largest city is the first in a series of similar bans being considered across the country in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal.
Like the UK, Germany is under intense pressure from the European Commission to do more to curb air pollution levels in many of its cities.
But diesel owners fear bans may wipe out the second-hand value of their cars and motoring organisations on Wednesday accused Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government of making drivers pay for the mistakes of the carmaking industry.
From May 31, diesel vehicles that do not meet the European Union’s latest emissions standards will be banned from a one-mile stretch of Stresemannstrasse, one of Hamburg’s main east-west thoroughfares, and a 600-yard stretch of Max Brauer Allee.
Drivers will be forced to take lengthy detours to avoid the banned sections. Those who ignore the ban will face a €25 (£20) fine — or €75 (£65) for lorries.
The ban will apply to 165,050 diesel cars registered in Hamburg alone, according to the German national motor transport authority, the Krafthfahrt Bundesamt.
It will also apply to tourists and visitors to the city from other countries and other parts of Germany.
Hamburg is the first city in Germany to enforce a ban after the country’s highest court ruled them legal in February.
Several other cities are considering bans, while Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes and Porsche, is facing legal actions from an environmental groups trying to force it to implement a ban.
Air tested in more than 65 German cities last year exceeded permitted limits of nitrogen oxides pollution, which is caused mainly by diesel exhausts.
Many in Germany are blaming the situation on the Dieselgate emissions scandal, in which it emerged that Volkswagen and other German carmakers fitted diesel vehicles with software to cheat emissions tests.
The head of Germany’s biggest motoring organisation, ADAC, condemned the new bans and accused Mrs Merkel’s government of not doing enough to protect drivers in the wake of Dieselgate.
“Motorists are being made to pick up the bill for the crimes of the car industry and years of looking away from politicians,” Christian Hieff, an ADAC spokesman said. The opposition Free Democrat Party (FDP) accused Mrs Merkel of responsibility for the ban by not taking action against carmakers sooner.
“Her policy of waiting and waiting has caused disaster,” Michael Theurer, an MP from the party said.
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