Frustration over lack of idling fines in Reading

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Frustration is mounting over the lack of fines and enforcement powers to punish drivers who slow their cars unnecessarily in Reading.

“Idle” means leaving a vehicle’s engine running when stationary, which means that vehicle fumes are emitted even if they are not moving.

Although idling sometimes cannot be avoided in traffic, there are instances where people leave the engine causing sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to be emitted into the atmosphere .

Councilors on both sides of the aisle have expressed frustration at the lack of fines and enforcement powers to tackle idling, with no fines reportedly issued in the past three years.

The issue was raised by Councilor Rob White (Green, Park), the Leader of the Opposition, who said the broadcasts made health problems worse.

In a question to Tony Page, Senior Transport Adviser, cllr White asked: ‘Can the Senior Adviser update me on recent work to combat engine idling?

“In particular, how many idling fines have been issued each year for the past three years?

READ MORE: Reading campaign to fight idling

Cllr Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) replied: ‘Unfortunately, as he and his colleagues have been told on many occasions, current national vehicle idling legislation is weak, requiring officers to seek d drivers to turn off their engines first.

“It is only in the event of refusal by the driver that a notice of fixed penalty can be issued.

“The practical implication of this is that drivers can idle with impunity provided they then turn off their engine when asked.”

Cllr Page added that anti-idling enforcement would require regular patrols by law enforcement officers.

However, he said that “there are currently no resources” for such an application.

Fines for idling were introduced in the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002.

Cllr Page continued: “Idling is part of a larger problem, and we are currently applying for funding through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Clean Air Grant. (DEFRA) to lead a broader air quality awareness and behavior change campaign. .

“This includes vehicle idling and other educational initiatives to improve knowledge and decision-making, promote mode switching and active travel.”

READ MORE: Engine idle warning issued to taxi drivers

The council’s ‘Draft Air Quality Action Plan’ is awaiting final approval, with a campaign to be launched to promote better air quality once funding becomes available.

DEFRA is currently accepting applications for its Clean Air Grants program for 2022 to 2023.

The deadline for applications was today (Friday 23 September).

No figures were given on how many people received idling penalty notices.

Cllr White told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he had assumed no fines had been issued in the past three years.

He did not ask any additional questions.

The exchange took place at the council’s traffic management subcommittee on Wednesday, September 14.

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