In a bid to cut pollution, Oxford council will fine drivers who leave their car engines idling.

Drivers in Oxford who leave their engines running while stopped for longer than a minute will face fines or a day in court. Enforcers from the city council will hand out tickets to motorists who leave their engines idling to keep themselves warm, or who simply forget to turn them off. Oxford city council has for six years had the power to issue fines in such cases but hasn’t used it until now. However, from next Monday (April 28), council officers will begin issuing £40 fixed penalty fines.

Initially, council staff will ask car drivers to turn off their engines. If they refuse, they’ll be handed a ticket. They’ll then have the choice of paying up, or taking the matter before a court. The penalties will only apply to parked cars, though. Vehicles queueing in traffic will not be targeted. Oxford council is taking the approach to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the city, which it says in some streets measure double the Government’s air quality standard of 40mg per cubic metre.

The council’s two enforcement officers, who already patrol in search of people who litter, will issue the tickets. However, the council is considering hiring more staff. Public health officer Ian Wright said the regulations applied everywhere in Oxford, although the city centre was a priority.

‘The main aim isn’t to fine people or for income generation, it’s about improving the air,’ he said. Oxford taxi drivers, meanwhile, have already lodged protests, arguing that the council will force them to sit in chilly cabs while waiting for fares.

Other local authorities have similar powers to fine but, as yet, we know of no others who use them.

Stephen Jury


April 22, 2008

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