UK Councils Could Issue Instant Fines for Idling Engines That'll Really Grind Your Gears

By Shabana Arif on at

If you're guilty of sitting around in your car with your engine on, be prepared for fines as councils encourage residents to tattle on their neighbours, with four figure penalties being discussed.

"Having spoken to more than 20,000 drivers so far, our air quality marshals found that most who idle, do so out of habit. Once they know the damage it causes, including the health risks, and they’re asked to switch off the engine, they do so and think twice before idling again. Fines should be a last resort – we prefer to ask nicely," said Westminster council leader Nickie Aiken via the Guardian.

She went on to suggest that for drivers employed by large companies, a minimum fine of four figures would be a “sufficient deterrent” should they continue with "persistent idling even after being asked." Fines for private citizens range from £20 to £80.

"While engagement [with the driver] is useful it is not going to cause everybody to change their behaviour in the way that getting a fine might,” said Camden's cabinet member for environment and transport, Adam Harrison.

Environment secretary Michael Grove has said that instant fines are being considered for drivers who continue to disregard these requests, but he was keen to make a point that should it come into effect, instant fines shouldn't be handed out willy nilly.

A number of UK cities have been actively trying to cut down on carbon emissions, with both London and Liverpool amongst those trialling and introducing hydrogen and electric-powered buses to combat air pollution.

If you've been leaving your engine idling because you think turning it off and starting it again will consume more fuel, then stop it. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) idling for 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting your engine. You don't need to warm up your engine by leaving your car on either.

And if the EDF's list of reasons to turn off your idling engines isn't going to dissuade you, I'm sure a big hefty fine will.