Camden council is to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) to drivers who refuse to switch off their engines when stationary in their vehicles, under a pilot scheme which began on Monday (12 March).
The pilot has begun with a week of awareness raising, during which officers will not issue any FPNs, but highlight the risk of receiving a fine to any motorists idling.
Camden approved the introduction of the 12-month pilot at a meeting late last year (see airqualitynews.com story).
Under the scheme, drivers found to be unnecessarily idling their vehicles by a council enforcement officer face an initial fixed penalty charge of £20, when paid within 28 days, rising to £40 after that period. Failure to pay could incur a maximum fine of up to £1,000 upon prosecution.
The fixed penalty charges are enforced through powers available to the authority under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions)(Fixed Penalty)(England) Regulations 2002 to take action against drivers of vehicles which are “engine idlingâ€? unnecessarily.
Commenting on the scheme, Councillor Adam Harrison, cabinet member for improving Camden’s environment said: “Previously our Civil Enforcement Officers, when engaging with an idling driver, could only request that they switch off their engine. The vast majority of motorists responded well to this.
“However, a small minority refused and it in these cases we are now able, as a last resort, to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to drivers who refuse to switch off their engines in a stationary vehicle.â€?
“This is an important step forward in our mission to clean up the dirty air that surrounds us as we go about our daily business in Camden.
“But we remain too limited in the actions that we can take as a Council. I believe the fines we can issue for this offence should be higher. The Government should also remove incentives for diesel in Vehicle Excise Duty, introduce a national diesel car scrappage scheme and introduce a new National Clean Air Act, giving the Mayor and London boroughs greater powers of enforcement, such as over wood burning stoves and construction machinery.â€?
Camden council has also voted to reduce particulate air pollution in the borough, in line with levels recommended as safe by the World Health Organization (see airqualitynews.com story).
This would see the council go beyond current legal standards which are enshrined in UK law through European Air Quality Directives.