Drivers to face up to £80 fine for idling their engines

Cars in traffic on a busy motorway. Pic: Flickr jonbgem

Drivers in Lewisham who leave their car engines running for three minutes face fines of up to £80 in an attempt to improve the air quality within the borough. 

This penalty introduced at the start of the year will apply to all roads within the borough of Lewisham. It follows Westminster Council, who introduced similar rules in 2017 and have issued 39 penalty charge notices for unnecessary engine idling. 

The move has been welcomed by Clean Air Catford – a group calling for measures to clean up the air. 

Ted Burke, a campaigner for the group, said: “It’s only right that when people are caught idling their engines they should pay the cost of the damage they’re doing. Idling your engine is illegal, so I would encourage the council to use all its powers to enforce this, and to do everything it can to raise awareness of this issue.”

According to Lewisham Council, an idling car can produce up to twice as much exhaust emissions as a moving car. These emissions then affect the quality of air in the environment.

Lewisham Council also said that the fines will be issued by civil enforcement officers. 

Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “The £80 fine for idling will be a very important tool for raising awareness of air pollution in Lewisham. Previous studies have shown stopping idling vehicles can reduce air pollution by up to 36 per cent outside primary schools. 

“We know the detrimental impacts that poor air quality can have particularly on children’s health and development. We will start issuing fines from late March, but only drivers who refuse to turn off their engines will be fined. Our aim is to prevent unnecessary air pollution and we will continue to explain why idling is so harmful.” 

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says that air pollution can cause both short term and long term effects on health. A variety of air pollutants have known or suspected harmful effects on human health and the environment.

Research by London Air Quality Network found that there were an extra 9,400 deaths per year because of air pollution. 

In February 2019 Lewisham council declared a climate emergency and are trying to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. 

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