German cities have been given the go-ahead to ban older diesel cars from their roads with immediate effect.
Vehicles up to and including Euro 5 can be restricted, with no grace period required.
The German Federal published its ruling on Friday, confirming diesel bans are legally possible and, in areas where it is the fastest route to reducing pollution, legally required.
It comes as Germany is referred to the EU’s highest court over its failure to tackle illegal pollution, according to limits that came in to force in 2010.
Environmental lawyers from ClientEarth and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH worked together to bring the cases against Stuttgart and Duesseldorf.
ClientEarth clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “This judgment makes it unavoidably clear – regional governments can and should put diesel restrictions in place where pollution is dangerously high.”
Lawyer Remo Klinger, who acted for DUH and ClientEarth, said: “Every regional court in Germany that was due to hear an air quality case has been waiting on today’s ruling. We now expect many of these cases will start to be heard and reach their conclusions. By Autumn, we will have developments in Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt and Aachen. Others will follow in the coming weeks.”