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/ 2018

Drivers could be fined for idling

Increasing numbers of local authorities are adopting £20 idling fines to tackle emissions outside schools

A growing number of councils are introducing on-the-spot £20 fines for drivers who leave their engines running while stationary in a bid to cut vehicle emissions.

The Times reports that Nottinghamshire city council has become the latest local authority to propose measures to tackle idling, following similar moves made by Norwich, Wirral, Reading, Camden and Southwark councils in 2018.

Leaving a vehicle engine running unnecessarily has been an offence since 1986, and councils in England were given the powers to combat the practice in 2002. Welsh and Scottish authorities gained similar powers in 2003.

Police officers and traffic wardens can hand out £20 fixed penalty notices to non-compliant motorists, doubling to £40 if fines aren’t paid within 28 days.

More than 30 councils are now believed to use the powers, with most targeting parents dropping off their kids at school; there is a growing concern about the long-term effects of vehicle emissions on life expectancy, with children thought to be the most vulnerable.

A study by King’s College London estimates that a 25 per cent drop in nitrogen dioxide levels in the London borough of Waltham Forest would give babies born in 2013 an extra seven weeks of life on average.

Westminster council was one of the first to hand out £20 idling fines, even encouraging residents to report repeat offenders via its website. Last year, it sanctioned the increase of that penalty to £80.

This follows the introduction of the £10 T-charge in London in October 2017, which targets petrol and diesel vehicles with pre-Euro 4 engines. The capital’s Congestion Charge zone will incorporate an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in 2019, which will later be expanded to cover most of the capital in 2021.