Friday, 27 March 2015

Now motorists face £20 fine if they leave their engine idling!

Twenty Pounds
Motorists face £20 fines if they leave their engines idling in what has been branded ‘another stealth tax’ on drivers.

A hit squad of ‘traffic marshals’ will target stationary cars as part of the crackdown aimed at cutting pollution to meet strict European environmental targets.

Motoring organisations accused Westminster council of ‘picking on car owners’ when the real problem is emissions coming from large vehicles.

There will be 85 traffic marshals at any one time scouring its streets when it introduces the scheme on May 1.

Islington Council, in North London, which introduced a similar clampdown last August, has 24 such marshals prowling roads and known hotspots with powers to hand out the £20 on-the-spot fines.

The fines, which rise to £40 if not paid within 28 days, are intended to be a ‘last resort’ if drivers refuse to turn off their vehicles.

Motorists outside school gates, on shopping runs or waiting to pick people up at stations are likely to be hit by the ‘draconian’ clampdown, which is aimed at those who leave their engines idling after pulling over rather than motorists stuck in traffic or at red lights.

Other councils around the country are also likely to start enforcing the ‘stationary idling offence’, which was quietly introduced by the Government in 2002.

Several councils, including Corby in Northamptonshire, Torfaen in Wales and Havering and Wandsworth in London already warn motorists that they face a £20 fine if they leave car engines idling when stationary.

Havering Council also warns parents dropping off children at school not to leave engines running because youngsters with asthma are particularly at risk from car pollutants – and urges people to contact the council if they know areas where cars are regularly left idling.

West Sussex County Council have introduced signs urging motorist to turn off their engines in Shoreham-by-Sea. 

The crackdown comes despite most modern cars being fitted with stop-start technology whereby the engine automatically cuts when it is stationary for a few moments.

The move angered motoring groups, who said it would do little to help cut pollution but would enrage already hard-pressed car owners and was simply a way of extracting more cash from drivers.

An AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: ‘The real test will be how heavily they enforce this. If you get people nabbing motorists first thing on winter mornings as they are trying to clear frozen windscreens so they can drive safely to work then it really will be worrying.’

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, told the BBC: ‘One of the real problems is cars stuck in traffic; research has shown pollution is up by 30 per cent in areas of heavy traffic. Do something to help get the traffic moving.’

The fines enforce Rule 123 of the Highway Code, which says: ‘If the vehicle is stationary and likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should switch off the engine to reduce emissions and oil pollution.’

Westminster councillor Heather Acton said: ‘We want to raise motorist awareness of the impact engine idling can have on the environment, with air and noise pollution affecting overall health, as well as it being an unnecessary use of fuel.’

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