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Luton Council launches ‘Engines Off’ campaign

The Bedfordshire town is warning residents that if they don’t turn off their engines while parked up they could face fines as efforts step up to reduce idling.

Luton Council has begun an anti-idling campaign with the slogan ‘Engines Off’, aiming to raise awareness about the impact of air pollution on public health and the financial implication of leaving engines running while parked up, using fuel unnecessarily.

woman in gray hoodie sitting inside car during daytime

The move comes as pressure mounts on local authorities to tackle air pollution issues and begin reducing emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 (fine particulate matter). Over the weekend petrol prices hit 185.04p litre for the first time ever, and diesel reached a record of 191.03p per liter, while average wages across the UK, excluding bonuses, are now falling at their fastest rate in 20 years as the cost of living crisis worsens. 

Luton’s anti-idling policy means Fixed Penalty Notices of £20 will be handed out to anyone found idling after a decision to increase powers was made back in March. This fee increases to £40 if it remains unpaid after 21 days of being issued. 

”Engines Off’ is an important part of our aims to be a carbon neutral town by 2040. With one of the main source of pollution being road transport and the current concern about the climate and health problems, this campaign will educate and encourage people to switch off,’ said Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder responsible for Climate Change.

‘Walking or cycling is one way to reduce air pollution, but if people do drive, it’s important to remember to turn off the engine when the car is parked, even if waiting in the car,’ he continued. ‘This small change can make a big difference. Although we now have the ability to fine people who do not turn off their engines when asked. We hope we won’t have to but instead they will get on board with our campaign and not be an ‘idler’.’

Some exemptions do apply. Cars caught in traffic will not be charged, and instances when engines are running to trace a defect do not fall under the regulations. Stationary taxis sitting at official ranks on cold days will also be able to use their engines to maintain heat. Drivers who are found idling illegally will also be given the opportunity to switch vehicles off before any charges and notices are issued. A public consultation is underway to determine what the public thinks of the initiative. 

‘Engines Off’ was also the name used for a London-wide anti-idling campaign that began in 2020.

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg

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