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.