German cities plan to implement driving bans that could hit up to five million older cars and small trucks to reduce levels of diesel particle emisssions, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported on Friday, according to Reuters.

Commercial centres such as Frankfurt and Stuttgart, along with many other towns and cities, are preparing such bans to bring pollution levels in line with European Union limits, the paper reportedly said, citing Germany's congress of municipal governments.

According to Reuters, the paper said Stuttgart plans to introduce a driving ban on older diesel vehicles from 2007, Frankfurt will follow suit in 2008 and, from 2009, the bans would likely affect all vehicles registered before December 1999.

The news agency noted that Germany was shocked at the start of the year when it emerged many city centres had breached new EU limits on diesel particle emissions that came into effect on January 1.

Germany's cabinet last week postponed adoption of a draft law that would allow cities to restrict access to heavily-polluted streets to car owners who had paid an annual toll. The charge would apply to all vehicles, not just diesel-powered ones, the report added.

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