In a motion tabled at the recent full meeting, Fife Council was urged by Councillor James Calder to adopt legislation which would allow motorists who leave their vehicle engines idling to be issued with fixed penalty notices. He said such a move would “reduce emissions from vehicles, particularly outside primary schools and where lorries are unloading.” He added: “Humanity faces an existential threat from climate change. Fife is doing excellent things for the environment. We must challenge ourselves because every little helps. It sends a message and shows Fife is leading the way.”
He was backed by Councillor Jane-Ann Liston who said: “People’s health is suffering, as well as the environment generally. Fife Council really should be using these powers to make the very air we breathe safer.” But the call didn’t get support across the chamber.
Council co-leader, David Alexander said a move to fixed penalty notices would mean resources would have to be found to enforce them. He added: “The money would need to be found. You’ve never asked how much it would cost.” He was backed by his co-leader, David Ross, who recognised there was an issue, but this was the wrong way to tackle it. He added: “ and we are happy to have further discussion. It’s unnecessary and the wrong way to go about it.”
Councillor Gavin Ellis said that in his 10 years of working as an enforcement officer he has never had issues. He added: “It’s not a straight forward issue to deal with, but it is decreasing. Emissions from engine idling is a very small part.”
Cllr Calder said he was “incredibly disappointed” with the attitudes, criticising Cllr Alexander for “a singular lack of ambition.” he added: “By bringing this forward we’re sending a message to drivers. We’re sending a message to protect the environment and public health by using similar resources we already have as a council, we should look at which members of staff could do this. It won’t add that much time to them.” His motion was voted down 54-6.
Editor’s comment: It is obvious to anyone walking around any town centre in Fife and elsewhere that the practice of leaving vehicle engines running is on the increase. And it poses real health risks, particularly to the developing lungs and brain. On the question of affordability raised by Councillor Alexander, QV takes the view that given the risks to health and the environment, we cannot afford put our heads in the sand and hope the issue will go away. Councillor Ross asserts that fixed penalties are “….. not the best way to deal with this” but offers no solutions of his own.
Click here for facts and myths about idling engines in a previous post @ St Andrews QV