Lambeth Council has introduced Â£20 fines for drivers who leave their engine running idle.
The authority will send traffic wardens to idling ‘hotspots’ Lambeth Waterloo, the Southbank, central Brixton, Clapham and the Vauxhall Gyratory.
Previously, they have only been issuing warnings. According to council figures, between February 2018 and September 2019 wardens in Lambeth asked 2,044 drivers to switch off their engine while stationary, of which 2,017 drivers complied with their advice and 27 people did not.
Itâ€™s been an offence to leave a â€˜vehicle engine running unnecessarilyâ€™ since 1986, and powers were handed to councils in 2002 in England to issue fixed penalty notices of Â£20 if motorists refuse to turn their engine off when asked to by a traffic warden.
The RAC says idling engines produce levels of CO2, NO2 and PM2.5 over two times as many as those in motion, with most instances coming from â€˜avoidableâ€™ road situations such as waiting to pick someone up outside a workplace or school.
The latter situation is of particular alarm as children breathe in up to three times more air relative to their weight, meaning they take in a greater volume of toxic air which can stunt lung growth and increase their risk of respiratory disease.
Schools in the borough are set to reopen on June 1 as lockdown restrictions ease.
Cllr Claire Holland, Lambethâ€™s deputy leader and cabinet member for sustainable transport, environment & clean air, said: ‘Cleaning up toxic air is an absolute priority for this council.
‘Poor air quality is a huge health risk to our residents, and engine idling is a major contributor. We are determined to tackle the issue and are confident these new measures will help encourage people to change their behaviour so that everyone in Lambeth â€“ particularly young children due to the effects on their development â€“ is able to breathe clean air.’