BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - Deutsche Umwelthilfe wants to step up its fight against heavy cars in city centers. The environmental organization has announced initiatives in many German cities to combat the "flood of oversized vehicles". One of the aims is to increase parking fees for particularly large and heavy vehicles. "Join-in campaigns" are also planned. Citizens could nominate a city in which the environmental organization should submit a formal application for measures against such cars.

In Paris, a referendum approved the city's plan to triple parking fees for heavy cars. From September, one hour's parking in the city center will cost 18 euros for heavy SUVs and other bulky vehicles, and as much as 225 euros for six hours. Only visitors will pay the special rate for heavy vehicles in Paris. Residents are to be exempt, as are tradesmen and care services.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe welcomed the result. The German Association of Cities spoke out in favor of locally coordinated decisions on traffic.

"Our city centers are in danger of being suffocated by oversized city SUVs and lifestyle pick-ups," said Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of Umwelthilfe. "Oversized cars and in particular the growing number of monster SUVs over five meters long have no place in our cities." The planned formal applications are intended to show the responsible authorities how they could already make use of existing legal options - for example by increasing parking fees for oversized vehicles and

the control and sanctioning of regular parking violations by oversized and overlong cars that no longer fit into the parking bays.

Furthermore, Umwelthilfe wants a resident parking permit to cost at least 360 euros per year. There should be significantly higher charges for particularly large vehicles. For vehicles longer than five meters, there should be no approval for a resident parking permit at all./hoe/DP/zb