Gove hints at tougher penalties for engine idling

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Fines of ‘more than £1,000’ would be justified, according to Westminster council leader.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has suggested that ‘instant’ fines for drivers who leave their engines idling could be introduced, following mounting evidence of its environmental impact.

The Minister told The Times that although on-the-spot penalties should be considered, they would need to be ‘used proportionately’ by local authorities.

Currently, police officers are only able to issue fines for engine idling after warning the driver; if they ignore the warning and remain stationary for another minute, then they are able to issue a penalty charge.

Drivers currently risk being fined between £20 and £80 for leaving their engines running; 39 tickets have been issued to drivers in Westminster since 2017 according to The Guardian.

Drivers may be forced to switch their engines off to avoid severe fines. PETER HALLS
Drivers may be forced to switch their engines off to avoid severe fines. PETER HALLS

Westminster council’s leader, Nickie Aiken, has said that most drivers let their engines idle ‘out of habit,’ but that fines of more than £1,000 would be appropriate for the worst offenders.

Commenting on The Times’ report, a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson said: “We are determined to reduce the damaging environmental impacts of drivers who keep their engines running while stationary, especially those in school zones.

“This is why we are making guidance for local authorities clearer, so that they know how and when to target drivers falling foul of the law.

“We will also be polling local authorities to understand how any potential review of these powers may look in future.”

Paul Loughlin, a Motoring Law Solicitor at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, told CBW: “These powers are likely to prove an effective deterrent and will go some way to reducing the pollution levels in our towns and cities.

“However, it remains unclear how local authorities will enforce them.

“There is an onus on the Government to spell out how these powers will be used as well as making it clear for drivers to turn off their engines whilst parked.

“The fines, some of which stretch to £1,000 for repeat offenders, will be keenly felt in particular by businesses and couriers, who often leave their vehicles running whilst making deliveries.”