Idle Drivers Not Punished Says New Data

Tue 15th Mar 2022

London’s mayor may be clamping down on air pollution by introducing further charges and sanctions for motorists in the capital city, but existing measures for tackling the issue appear quite toothless says a new report.

The issue of vehicle idling, where a driver leaves the engine running whilst parked, has been a target of councils and local authorities for some time, particularly in high pollution areas and outside of schools. But schemes such as Westminster Council’s ‘Report It’ website, whereby citizens are encouraged to log incidents of idling, are largely ineffective. 

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 70,000 drivers were reported on the website in the last five years, but only 63 fines have been handed out, and just over half of those £80 fines have been paid.

“Westminster Conservatives talk a good talk on air quality but this data shows they did not use the powers at their disposal,” said Max Sullivan, a Labour candidate for Bayswater Council.

“The lack of tough action on engine idling is appalling and will be disappointing news to those worried about air pollution.

“It is reasonable to have some soft enforcement,” Sullivan said. “The problem is there is virtually no hard action at all. I don’t know what you’d have to do to get fined.”

Nickie Aiken, who was leader at Westminster Council when the ‘Report It’ website was introduced is now an MP, and she has actually called for stronger penalties to discourage idling.“Tackling air quality is a major priority for my constituents – and therefore me,” Aiken said in the Guardian. “From my experience, when I introduced the ‘don’t be idle’ campaign as council leader, the vast majority of drivers who are asked to turn off their engines do so. Perhaps that is why we have very few fines given out. For those who refuse, £80 doesn’t seem to cease their behaviour. Perhaps a larger fine will focus their minds.”

A recently commissioned Transport for London study found that toxic air pollution causes 4,000 deaths a year in London.