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UK Drivers who leave engines idling could face instant fines

Jun 3, 2019 | News

UK drivers who are caught repeatedly with the engine of their vehicle running whilst they are stopped could face a fine under new government plans aimed at reducing air pollution.

Don’t leave your engine idling

Those who leave their engine idle when stopped could face an £80 fine, with Environment secretary Michael Gove supporting calls from some councils planning on introducing stronger measures to tackle idling engines. Leaving engines idle can cause more pollution than when a vehicle is actually moving.

There are laws in place, however currently police can only issue a fine after they have given the driver a warning which is then ignored for over a minute. The fine is £20 or £80 depending on how local authorities decide to enforce the law. Talking to The Times newspaper, Gove said that instant fines for repeat offenders should be considered but placed an importance on ensuring that the new powers would be used by councils proportionately.

Westminster city council has issued 39 penalty charge notices for unnecessary engine idling since 2017. The central London borough has called for the government to allow for the punishment of companies whose drivers are repeatedly caught idling with fines in excess of £1,000, highlighting delivery drivers and commercial vehicles as the worst offenders.

Westminster council leader Nickie Aiken believes that engine idling needlessly contributes to air pollution and called for a change in the way people think about engine idling. Following on from this she commented:

”Having spoken to more than 20,000 drivers so far, our air quality marshals found that most who idle, do so out of habit. Once they know the damage it causes, including the health risks, and they’re asked to switch off the engine, they do so and think twice before idling again. Fines should be a last resort – we prefer to ask nicely.”

She added that nothing less than a four-figure sum would act as a ”sufficient deterrent” for large companies whose drivers continue ”widespread and persistent idling even after being asked”

Up to 18 local authorities in London have been involved in what have been labelled ”Idling action events” with drivers approached and asked to switch their engines off whilst parked. Islington council revealed that more than 80% of drivers obliged to switch their engines off if asked in a non-judgmental and friendly manner.

A spokesperson from the Department for Transport also commented on the proposals:

”We are determined to reduce the damaging environmental impacts of drivers who keep their engines running while stationary, especially those in school zones. This is why we are making guidance for local authorities clearer, so that they know how and when to target drivers falling foul of the law. We will also be polling local authorities to understand how any potential review of these powers may look in future.”

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