Clean air for all? Councils show lack of ambition

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Councils were granted extra powers in 2003 to stop motorists from running their engines unnecessarily but only four motorists have been penalised for idling their engines in Scotland in the past five years, all in Glasgow, despite growing concerns about the effects of vehicle pollution.

Some councils warn residents that they may be penalised for idling but nevertheless have not used the powers in the past five years. In Fife, the Labour/SNP dominated council rejected a motion tabled earlier this year to adopt legislation which would allow motorists who leave their vehicle engines idling to be issued with fixed penalty notices.

Joseph Carter, head of the British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “It’s extremely disappointing that only four penalty notices for idling have been handed out in the last five years across Scotland. We know this is a much bigger problem than four individuals – its quite common for people to leave their engines on when stopping for a short time, such as dropping the kids at school or running into the shops”.

It may seem harmless but idling pumps toxic air into the atmosphere. This is especially problematic around schools, as children’s little lungs are still growing, and air pollution can stunt that growth and potentially lead to a lung disease like asthma. It’s time for councils across Scotland to take this issue seriously”.

While there is no research in Scotland into the impact idling has on pollution. A study outside schools in London found that on days when parents were reminded to switch their engines off, levels dropped by as much as a third. Glasgow, where vehicle pollution levels are high, is to trial car-free zones around six schools, with a pilot staring this week.

Click here for facts and myths about idling engines in a previous post @ St Andrews QV

St Andrews QV (Qui Vive) is an independent not-for-profit, non-political platform for news and debates about issues that are important to the Town. It exists to hold decision makers and public services to account while its editorial policy is to accommodate all shades of opinion from all parts of the community, prioritising evidence-based arguments. St Andrews QV is a member of the Independent Community News Network and is committed to the Community Journalism Charter

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