The new war on diesel drivers has gathered pace with news that Islington Council is to target drivers of diesel vehicles who sit in their cars with the engine idling.
£20 on-the-spot fines will be issued to drivers who fail to turn off their engines when asked, in what it believes is the first campaign of its type in the UK.
Buses and lorries are also being targeted, but it is the council’s specific identification of diesel car drivers, rather than just car drivers, that is likely to prove most controversial – particularly as the potential on-the-spot fine is double that proposed by Boris Johnson for the London Congestion Charge in 2020.
The council claims that diesel vehicles emit four times more NO2 and 22 times more PM10s than petrol vehicles (Motoring Research is contacting the council to seek further clarification on these claims).
‘Don’t be idle’ says council: Switch It Off
Councillor Claudia Webbe, executive member for environment, said: “We are committed to improving air quality in Islington, which is why we are clamping down on idling busies, lorries and diesel cars.” These, says Islington Council, can release as much pollution into the air as a moving vehicle.
The campaign is already underway: council officers will, says the council, “continue to advise drivers about the harmful effects of leaving their vehicles idling, but will also issue on-the-spot fines for those drivers who do not switch off their engines when asked.”
Guidance suggests that drivers who will be waiting for more than a minute or two should switch off their engines.
Officials have made it clear, however, that drivers stuck in traffic won’t be targeted, nor will motorists defrosting their windscreens. There will be a ‘common sense’ filter to the legislation, which uses powers given to councils back in 2002 to issue penalties against idling vehicles.
Statistics from the London Mayor’s office estimate that more than 200 deaths a year in Islington alone are caused by poor air quality.
Find out more about the Islington ’Don’t be idle!’ campaign through the Switch It Off info page.