More Fines for UK Motorists - £20 Idling Charge

Westminster Council have decided to start fining motorists who leave their engine running while stationary

More Fines for UK Motorists - £20 Idling Charge

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Over one hundred new traffic marshals to be set loose

Westminster council have confirmed that they are to begin fining motorists with an on the spot penalty of £20 if they refuse to turn their engine off when told to do so by a traffic warden.

The new charge comes as part of a seemingly orchestrated wave of new fines and rules that are being enforced up and down the country, accompanying such things as the stealth speed cameras and the recently introduced parking surcharges for diesel vehicles parked outside the home.

Over one hundred new traffic marshals will be set loose around two areas in London so as to target drivers in those places. They will approach vehicles that are running and tell the driver to shut the engine off. If the driver doesn't do so, they will be charged £20 on the spot. If the fine is not paid within 28 days, the fine goes up to £40. Is it fair?

“We want to raise motorist awareness"

Heather Acton of Westminster council said "We want to raise motorist awareness of the impact engine idling can have on the environment, with air and noise pollution affecting overall health, as well as it being an unnecessary use of fuel." with another council member saying "Our traffic marshals will be tapping on the windows of vehicles asking them to turn their engines off if they are, for example, waiting for someone outside an office."

The problem is that of all the pollution being released into the atmosphere, motorists are responsible for only a small fraction. The real issue with pollution and CO2 emissions is coming from power stations, logistics and haulage firms, railways and factories. While various industries continue to profit from polluting the earth, it's left down to the public to foot the bill and help reach EU targets that the government are desperately trying to hit.

Changes to road systems in and around towns have also been hampering the flow of traffic as more speed restrictions and one way systems are implemented. This is causing build-ups of slow moving traffic, which produce the most CO2.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, told the BBC: "One of the real problems is cars stuck in traffic; research has shown pollution is up by 30 per cent in areas of heavy traffic. Do something to help get the traffic moving."

A spokesman from the AA, Luke Bosdet said "The real test will be how heavily they enforce this. If you get people nabbing motorists first thing on winter mornings as they are trying to clear frozen windscreens so they can drive safely to work then it really will be worrying." while president of the AA Edmund King added: "It's not always clear just how long you're going to be idling."

"Yet another way of extracting money from people who drive"

Many have spoken out about these "idling fines" saying that it is yet another way of extracting money from people who drive and that it won't have any effect on pollution. The last statement is an interesting one. If everybody cut their engine at all times when sat still, then emissions would theoretically drop. However if you were going to sit "idle" for 2 minutes then you would be producing less CO2 by doing just that, than if you were to kill your engine and fire it up again only a minute later. In fact the "applicable zone" for cutting the engine while idle to improve emissions in a busy city is so small, the improvement would be a mere drop in the ocean compared to the amount of pollution at play within industry on the whole.

You might argue that if cutting pollution was the real motivation for these extra charges then we would simply follow France's example and make public transport free for a short while, banning all cars from entering London for the duration. They could even just ban vehicles in the city at weekends so weekly commuters wouldn't be affected, pollution would be cut and money would still be raised from people using the public transport.

It does seem as though, yet again, the council are openly and happily fining people on a whim. Who agrees?

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. What will your response be when your window is tapped on during that morning commute? As always leave your comments below.