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Drivers hit with £20 fines for idling engines as council's clean air campaign gets into top gear

PUBLISHED: 17:57 03 August 2018

Few occasions when drivers can legally idle their engines... when they're stuck in a jam. Picture source: LBTH

Few occasions when drivers can legally idle their engines... when they're stuck in a jam. Picture source: LBTH

LBTH

Drivers leaving their engines running when parked are being slapped with £20 fines—double if not paid in 28 days.

'Breath clean' campaign at Bethnal Green's Bonner Primary school in March 2018. Picture: Kois Miah'Breath clean' campaign at Bethnal Green's Bonner Primary school in March 2018. Picture: Kois Miah

The ‘get tough’ policy has been put into top gear by Tower Hamlets Council’s clean air campaign to reduce pollution, which has been targeting parents letting car engines idle outside schools.

“We’re telling drivers not to leave engines running unnecessarily, through enforcement if necessary,” Mayor John Biggs warned.

“Exhaust fumes are one of the East End’s biggest contributors to pollution, which can have a particular impact on children’s lung development.”

Four-out-of-10 East End households are said to be in areas exceeding government and EU legal levels.

Message on a plackard from pupil at Bonner Primary that he wants to breath cleaner air. Picture: Kois MiahMessage on a plackard from pupil at Bonner Primary that he wants to breath cleaner air. Picture: Kois Miah

Half the air pollution is said to come from traffic, while statistics show seven-out-of-every-hundred deaths of people over 30 being related to pollution.

Rachel Blake, council cabinet member for air quality, said: “Engines left to run idle cause hot spots of pollution that affect passers-by as well as those sitting in the cars.”

Mums and dads picking up children were being urged to switch off their car engines while waiting at the school gates, when the campaign went into overdrive in March.

An idling engine can produce up to twice as many emissions as cars on the move, the council pointed out.

The real traffic pollution that overshadows idling engines... the busy A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach where pedestrians staged a demo in July 2015. Picture: Rehan Jamil/Poplar Harca HousingThe real traffic pollution that overshadows idling engines... the busy A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach where pedestrians staged a demo in July 2015. Picture: Rehan Jamil/Poplar Harca Housing

But idling engines at the school gates are a small part of problem, overshadowed by congested routes like the A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach among London’s most polluted main roads.

Engines left idling are technically illegal under 2002 Road Traffic Emissions regulations. Local authorities have powers under the regulations to issue fixed penalty notices, although only if a driver refuses to switch off the engine when asked by a council officer.

Some circumstances are exempt where stationary vehicles have engines running—queuing at traffic lights, tracing mechanical faults under repair, powering machinery such as refrigerators or refuse-lorry compacting equipment or vehicles being propelled by gas produced by plant carried on board.

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