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Idling drivers in Westminster could face 20 fine

Number of London businesses voice support for new initiative, which is designed to cut air pollution from traffic

Motorists who leave their engines running unnecessarily in Westminster could face a 20 fine under a city council initiative designed to cut air pollution from traffic.

It is already an offence to leave a vehicle idling unnecessarily while stationary, but from May 1 2015 a Westminster city council team of traffic marshals will be tasked with approaching motorists who do so and requesting them to turn off their engines.

Motorists in Westminster could face a 20 fine if caught idling their engines unnecessarily

Motorists in Westminster could face a 20 fine if caught idling their engines unnecessarily

And, as a last resort, drivers caught idling on Westminster streets could be fined 20 for failing to switch off their engines.

Last year, Islington borough council also introduced on the spot fines for engine idlers in a bid to cut traffic emissions (see airqualitynews.com story), while Camden has since 2011 been issuing fines to buses which idle for too long.

Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking, said: Our residents are rightly concerned about the quality of the air they breathe and the council is committed to improving air quality in Westminster.

Motor traffic plays an important role in keeping our city moving, which is vital for its economic prosperity. 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.

We are asking our Marshals to talk to drivers now, before fines come into force in May, to ensure they are aware that engine idling is an offence. Fining motorists for idling will be employed as a last resort and we are confident that the work the Marshals are carrying out now to raise awareness will mean a negligible need for enforcement, added Cllr Acton.

Business support

A number of businesses in the area have also voiced their support for the initiative, including chief executive of the Northbank Business Improvement District (BID), Ruth Duston, who said that clogged streets are not good for business or visitors.

She added: The scale of the challenge demands creative and collaborative thinking such as streamlining deliveries and servicing across the area, which would have a significant impact on both traffic congestion and air quality.

Also supporting the initiative, chief executive of Paddingtons BID, Kay Buxton, said: Air quality is one of the most significant issues in London, and Paddingtons proximity to pockets of pollution concentrated around the Westway, Marylebone Road and Edgware Road makes this a critical issue.

Green initiatives are high on the agenda for PaddingtonNow. In the last year we have launched a green wall and rain garden just off bustling Praed Street as well as floral hanging baskets and planters throughout the area, so it is encouraging to see the City Council leading on green activations across the whole city.

In addition, Sarah Porter, chief executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance which represents 500 businesses in Piccadilly, St James and Leicester Square said: Improving air quality is vital to the reputation, health and future prosperity of our global city. The businesses we represent are based in some of Londons busiest streets, with significant air quality challenges. If our economic heartland is to retain its international appeal, attract new businesses and continue to grow, we must continue to introduce sensible and sustainable measures to improve air quality.

We are currently working on a number of initiatives that will make a real difference to pollution levels including off-site freight consolidation centres, use of electric vehicles and shared delivery arrangements. Westminster city councils new initiatives to discourage unnecessary vehicle engine idling are simple but effective steps and ones we wholeheartedly support.

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