Drivers who leave their engines running could be hit with instant fines

File photo dated 06/01/17 of traffic on Brixton Road in Lambeth, London, as mayors and city leaders are calling for a ??1.5 billion Government fund to take polluting vehicles off the UK's streets and improve air quality.
Westminster Council is hoping to be able to fine drivers with idling engines without warning. Stock image of London traffic. (PA)

Drivers repeatedly caught leaving their car engine running while parked could be hit with instant fines in a bid to curb pollution, according to reports.

Environment secretary Michael Gove has backed Westminster City Council’s call to be granted powers which could see drivers who are caught idling to be fined without warning, the Times says.

The existing arrangement sees officers issue a warning, followed by a fine if a driver keeps the car running for at least a minute - depending on which regulation is used by an authority fines can either be £20 or £80.

Experts claim an idling engines are harmful to the environment as they can produce greater emissions than one which is in motion.

Westminster City Council issued just 20 fines last year but other councils - including City of London, Camden, Croydon, Reading, Norwich and Canterbury did not issue fines for idling.

Britain's environment secretary Michael Gove speaks to the media outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday December 12, 2018. British Conservative lawmakers forced a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May for Wednesday, throwing U.K. politics deeper into crisis and Brexit further into doubt. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Michael Gove supports Westminster Council's proposals. (AP)

Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council leader, said: “Fines are our last resort but when we establish a pattern of persistent idling we need to be able to send a message.”

And she argued the likes of supermarket delivery vans should be hit with a four-figure sum to be “sufficient deterrent”

Mr Gove said that instant fines for repeat offenders should be considered as a solution to the problem.

It was important to ensure that the new powers would be used proportionately by councils, he added.

Police officers direct traffic as taxis engage in a 'go slow' protest on the Holloway Circus roundabout in Birmingham City Centre as drivers protest over the city councils plans for a new clean air zone in Birmingham.
Some councils have issued no fines to idling drivers despite being granted powers. Here an enforcement officer speaks to a taxi driver. (PA)

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Camden council, which wants to be able to issue instant fines, has warned more than 400 drivers but has issued no fines since it was granted the powers last year

The Department for Transport said: “We are determined to reduce the damaging environmental impacts of drivers who keep their engines running while stationary, especially those in school zones.

“This is why we are making guidance for local authorities clearer, so that they know how and when to target drivers falling foul of the law. We will be polling local authorities to understand how any potential review of these powers may look in the future.”

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