Blue Environmental Zone in Hamburg – Planning

In a way, the city of Hamburg is a pioneer regarding blue environmental zones, as the city made the first concrete plans for traffic restrictions. Jens Scholz, Senator for environment and energy in Hamburg, first mentioned a blue environmental zone in July 2016, when saying that stronger actions such as restrictions for Diesel vehicles must been taken in order to improve the air quality. Following this advance, concrete measures were taken by the local environmental office in May 2017, but they are still very discussed. Road segments of the Stresemannstraße and the Max-Bauer-Allee shall be closed to trucks beneath the Euro 6 norm but also to many older Diesel cars. However, the implementation brings a lot of problems as three forth of the municipal fleet would not be allowed to access the concerned streets anymore. A large number of exceptions given to police vehicles, ambulances and residents would void the restriction. Moreover, a small-scale limitation would probably only shift the problem. For this reason, the mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz wants to prevent the traffic restrictions and counts on the new air-quality plan that includes different alternative measures.

Nitrogen Oxides in Hamburg – Information until September 2017

In Hamburg, the air quality is currently evaluated by 15 measurement spots. The results enable to calculate an air quality index, which is published and actualised on the city’s website every hour. In general, this index is good for a big city. Hamburg respects all limit values, apart from nitrogen oxides rates, which are regularly exceeding the European limit values.
Therefore, the city has been sued by the German association for Environment and Nature Protection (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland - BUND) more than once. The Administrative Court of Hamburg recently obliged the Senate to extend the air-quality plan, which would require further and appropriate measures in order to comply guideline values. At the same time, the city of Hamburg justifies the absence of an environmental zone by the low expected impact, combined with a considerable economic burden. The District Court accepted this reason as well which explains, that the new air pollution plan is based on three main pillars: the improvement of public transports and the increase of the cycling network, the renewal of the city fleet to low-emission motor vehicles, and a number of different measures that are targeting the minimization of air pollution by the port sector and the energy industry.
The partial driving bans launched by the Senator for environment Scholz have now opened a new debate.