Chris Grayling has signalled his intention to increase fines for drivers who leave their engines running while parked in what would be 'the biggest change to the rules since 2002'.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the transport secretary ‘intends to launch a public consultation’, which is expected to come out this summer.
Fixed penalties fines double if unpaid
Officials said that vehicle idling is a major factor in poor air quality, particularly in areas with large numbers of waiting vehicles such as schools, at taxi ranks and bus stations, and that while councils already have powers to fine drivers, the Government is ‘looking at toughening up those powers’.
Mr Grayling said: ‘We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running, particularly outside school gates where our children are breaking in this toxic air.
‘Putting a stop to idling is an easy way to drive down dangerously high levels of pollution, reducing its impact on the environment and our health.’
The DfT said that every minute, an idling car produces enough exhaust emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful chemicals, including cyanide, NOx and PM2.5.
Officials said the forthcoming proposals would ‘represent the biggest change to the rules since 2002’, with the (initial) £20 fine levied by councils via a fixed penalty notice not having changed since that time and now ‘well below’ fines for similar offences.
The proposals will also provide guidance to local authorities on their anti-idling powers, ‘enabling them to enforce the law more effectively’.
The consultation will also explore how to deal with repeat offenders who keep their engines running following several warnings.
Officials added that the police also have powers to tackle idling, with more significant penalties available via the courts, ‘but usage of these is low’.