City of York Council agreed proposals to fine motorists for idling yesterday (February 7).
From June, council officers will be able to issue fixed penalty notices of £20 to drivers who refuse to switch off their engines after being observed idling on the public highway for more than two minutes, rising to £40 if they don’t pay within 28 days.
The council say that enforcement would always be a ‘last resort’ and that the problem of idling will primarily be addressed by raising awareness, particularly in those areas of the city where complaints arise, such as residential areas and outside schools.
The fines will not apply to vehicles waiting in a queue of traffic, unless there’s an obvious source of prolonged delay, such as a level crossing or an incident that’s blocking the highway.
Campaigners in York have said that there’s an ‘inconsistent’ approach to idling among vehicle operators and that those driving in the course of the work do not always comply with their company’s policies, and that the use of technology designed to automatically cut off power to a vehicle when it’s stationary is ‘ad-hoc’.
Awareness-raising activities carried out on Clean Air Day 2017 and 2018 observed idling by buses and coaches.
An awareness-raising campaign is expected to launch in May, six weeks before the proposed introduction of anti-idling enforcement patrols, which would be timed to coincide with Clean Air Day 2019 on 20 June.
Cllr Peter Dew, executive member for Transport and Planning, said: ‘Through the Quality Bus Partnership, we’re working closely with bus operators around the city, who have been extremely proactive in terms of helping us to raise awareness of this issue among their drivers. Many buses now also have technology on board to prevent idling, and the introduction of more electric buses during the course of 2019 will also help to address this issue.’
Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the Environment, added: ‘Idling is an issue that we receive complaints about, particularly near schools and residential areas. These measures are aimed at improving air quality and public health, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle noise.’
In related news, last month City of York Council approved £1.6m of funding for bus companies to transition to low-emission vehicles, as part of a Clean Air Zone that will come into force from 2020.