Tougher sanctions under review over vehicle idling in Suffolk

The campaign comes amid concerns over environmental impacts of vehicle idling. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The campaign comes amid concerns over environmental impacts of vehicle idling. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO/ALEX ISHCHENKO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plans are underway for a countywide campaign to curb cars loitering outside schools with their engine running – with tougher sanctions among one of the options under consideration.

Proposals put forward to St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s scrutiny committee outlined the problem of ‘vehicle idling’ – motorists parked but leaving their engines running, usually outside schools or shops.

A report prepared for the committee said that “in most instances idling for greater than one minute is considered to have a negative impact on air quality”.

Among the options West Suffolk considered were a campaign initially targeted at schools to educate motorists, issuing fixed penalty notices for those who refuse to turn their engines off or more road signs.

A spokesman said: “We are looking to develop a campaign to improve air quality outside schools.

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“This is early days and we will be bringing this project forward with partners from across Suffolk in due course.”

The report said that an education campaign was the preferred route as “evidence shows campaigns in other areas have been successful and have had a positive impact on driver behaviour”.

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Data on nearby authorities revealed that Norwich City Council intends to start using fixed penalty notices from September, while Braintree District Council had adopted the powers 10 years ago but not used them.

The report added that fixed penalty notices may be necessary on “an exceptional basis only”.

It is not yet clear when other authorities in Suffolk will discuss the issue, or when any scheme may be launched, but West Suffolk Council officers have been recommended to pursue work on public campaigns.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “Suffolk County Council whole-heartedly supports this initiative from West Suffolk Councils, which aims to improve the air quality for residents in their busiest streets.

“Air quality is of huge importance to our quality of life in Suffolk, which is why we are supporting the roll-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the area.

“We want to encourage the adoption of cleaner modes of transport along with our cycling and walking initiatives.”

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