Parents who leave their car engines running while on the school run should face fines as part of a drive to cut air pollution, new guidance suggests.
Proposals from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) and Public Health England (PHE) say ‘no-idling zones’ should be brought in outside schools, hospitals and care homes in a bid to protect vulnerable people from fumes.
Westminster City Council is one of those to already have introduced no-idling zones, with officers able to issue motorists with an £80 Penalty Charge Notice if they leave their engines idling when they park up.
According to the council, a car idling for one minute produces enough exhaust emissions containing harmful chemicals to fill 150 balloons.
Nice and PHE say the move would help protect those who are most at risk from air pollution, including children aged 14 and under, people aged 65 and over and those with conditions such as asthma or heart problems.
Professor Paul Lincoln, chief executive of UK health forum and chairman of the Nice guideline committee, said: ‘Air pollution is a major risk to our health and so far, suggested measures have not managed to tackle the problem sufficiently.
‘This guidance is based upon the best evidence available. It outlines a range of practical steps that local authorities can take, such as the implementation of no-idling zones, to reduce emissions and protect the public.
‘I hope that this guidance will prove influential in reducing the amount of air pollution we are exposed to every day.’
The guidance, which is aimed at councils, staff working in transport, employers, health workers and the public, also aims to raise awareness of cutting car journeys through more walking and cycling.
It also suggests ways to promote driving ‘in a style that minimises emissions by avoiding rapid accelerations and decelerations ... and ensuring the vehicle is correctly maintained’.
These guidelines bring into sharp focus the reality that air pollution is one of our most important public health issues.Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation
Other measures include providing charge points for electric vehicles in workplaces and residential areas, and promoting car sharing schemes or car clubs.
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘These guidelines bring into sharp focus the reality that air pollution is one of our most important public health issues. Air pollution is poisonous.
‘We welcome the recommendations to introduce no vehicle idling areas. This will help to protect the most vulnerable in our society.’