Standing, Air pollution

This case was concerned with the Clean Air Plan of the city of Darmstadt which provided for several measures for the reduction of vehicle emissions. However, the applicable nitric oxide limit values were not met on the city’s three most trafficked streets. An environmental organisation filed a suit with regards to the city’s failure to ensure that these values are met and asked them to enforce proper measures to solve the issue. The lower court held their claim to be inadmissible on the grounds that an environmental organisation does not have legal standing. On appeal, the Federal Administrative Court followed the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the Aarhus Convention in which they stated that environmental organisations should have access to courts in order to ensure effective implementation of European environmental law. Therefore, the Federal Administrative Court decided that recognised environmental organisations have legal standing concerning the compliance with provisions on Clean Air Plans.  Moreover, it was held that the city needs to take appropriate measures to ensure meeting the nitric oxide limit values.