Luton Council’s campaign to help improve air quality in the area is having an impact as drivers get on board by switching off.
The ‘Engines off’ campaign was launched this year to raise awareness of the impacts of air quality on people’s health as well as the financial implication of running car engines while parking. Minimising this helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions which are linked to climate change; and nitrogen dioxide which is linked to respiratory conditions such as asthma and lung cancer, said the council.
The council’s Neighbourhood Enforcement Team and parking enforcement officers have been engaging with drivers, who are keeping their engines running while stationary in the town and particularly around schools, and encouraging them to switch off their engines. Since July almost 400 idling drivers have switched off their engines when asked to do so helping to keep the air cleaner in the area.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder responsible for climate change, said “Idling creates air pollution which is harmful to health, as well as being a waste of fuel and money. The campaign is part of our net zero commitments and with one of the main source of pollution being road transport it’s not just climate we need to take seriously but people’s health too.
“Although we now have the ability to fine people who do not turn off their engines, this policy is only about enforcement as a last resort. The focus is about engagement and education and we want to thank people for getting on board”.
The council currently has the right to fine people who refuse to switch off their engines while stationary anywhere in the town with a focus on the three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Luton and around schools. The fines would only be issued as a last resort and only where drivers do not voluntarily switch off their engine. It would not be enforced in instances such as when a vehicle is stationary due to traffic, where running in order to trace a vehicle defect or on a cold day at a taxi rank. They would also not be issued if the driver is elderly and running the engine to keep warm, or to help defrost a windscreen in very cold weather.