Fines for motorists who allow engine to ‘idle’ to be considered by Thanet council

Car idling fines

Thanet council Cabinet members will discuss whether to approve new powers to fine motorists who allow their engine to tick over while stationary -known as idling.

Thanet council says the move would mean enforcement officers could issue Fixed Penalty Notices and say it is part of the drive to tackle traffic-related air pollution.

The proposals will be considered by the Cabinet when they meet on Thursday 30 May and if approved, would be introduced around schools and within Air Quality Management Areas.

A report to councillors notes one air quality area  – St Lawrence to Shah Place Ramsgate- was declared in June 2023 as likely exceeding the annual average Air Quality Objective for nitrogen dioxide.

The report says the council is currently developing an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to tackle vehicle emissions in Ramsgate.

The council says the aim is to focus primarily on education and raising public awareness rather than enforcement, but where advice has been ignored, the new powers would mean officers could issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £20, rising to £40 if not paid within 28 days.

The recommendations within the report ask the Cabinet to:

  • Approve the implementation and enforcement of provisions relating to anti-idling as laid down by the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.
  • Delegate authority to the Director of Environment to authorise relevant officers or persons to stop idling offences and issue fixed penalty notices
  • Agree for Fees & Charges for 2024/25 to be varied to reflect this decision; with new charges for Vehicle Emissions Fixed Penalty Notices of £20, rising to £40 if not paid within 28 days.

The report to councillors says: “It is widely recognised that emissions from vehicles play a large part in poor air quality which can exacerbate health problems such as heart and lung disease. As well as emitting NO2 and particulates, vehicle fumes also contain CO2 which contributes towards climate change.

“The Parking and Environmental Protection Teams also receive complaints about idling vehicles outside schools and other locations from time to time. The adoption of these Regulations and the ability for FPNs to be served will enable a greater awareness of the issues arising from leaving vehicle engines running, and potentially an improvement in air quality in local areas.”

Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Heather Keen, said: “The council is committed to doing what we can to protect our environment. Although we’re fortunate that Thanet has good air quality, at peak times when traffic builds up, so does associated pollution from burning fossil fuels.

“The morning rush hour is of particular concern as children are exposed to roadside pollutants on their way to school.

“Leaving engines to idle not only burns climate changing fossil fuels, it also produces nitrogen dioxide and fine particles exposing children with asthma and older people with respiratory conditions to the harmful effects of pollution.

“Introducing these new powers will provide the opportunity to raise public awareness around these issues and crucially, if drivers don’t comply, will mean we can take action to address this. I will be strongly encouraging my Cabinet colleagues to approve the proposals.”

Green councillor Mike Garner

Thanet Green Party leader Cllr Mike Garner said: “”I am pleased that Thanet District Council is going to take forward our proposal to follow the lead of other progressive councils in the UK and consider asking enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices to car drivers when they witness a car idling and issue a fine of £40 if they refuse to turn their engine off.

“I asked Cllr Keen to consider this at the full council meeting in February earlier this year and I am hopeful that the proposal will be ratified at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

“The Royal College of Physicians estimate that 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this by increasing the amount of exhaust fumes in the air. Any steps we can take to reduce this number is a step in the right direction.”

However, Thanet Conservatives leader Reece Pugh branded the plan as a ‘semi-ULEZ’ for Thanet.

He said: “The health and wellbeing of Thanet residents is paramount and we all want to see the environment around us be protected and enhanced but these proposals are nothing more than creating a semi-ULEZ scheme in Thanet.

“I question how this will be enforced considering TDC is struggling to recruit parking enforcement officers and has been for some time.

“TDC should be focusing on enforcing the powers it already has to tackle littering and antisocial behaviour, not penalising parents who are picking up their children from school.”

73 Comments

  1. Why worry about cars idling you can’t get around thanet nowadays without being stuck in traffic. Give it a year and thanet will be gridlocked 24/7.

    TDC worry about my car idling as a great big dirty cargo plane flys over my head lol really.

    • I would rather have cargo planes going over than the pollution from thousands of cars grinding to a halt in Thanet

    • “Give it a year and thanet will be gridlocked 24/7.”

      People have been saying this for a decade now. It still only takes maximum of 15 minutes to cross Thanet, at peak times.

      PS, don’t forget whilst moaning about traffic, you’re also, traffic.

      • I use Margate Road, Ramsgate from the Viaduct to Pysons Road daily, on my mobility scooter. There are some quite lengthy periods when there is no traffic in either direction, and when there is it seems to be moving normally. I am all for cracking down on pollution, and one prolific offender is the Loop bus!

          • I bet you’re one of those idiots who parks on pavements and forces mobility scooters into the road.

          • Yes I do sometimes have to ride on the road, because many pavements do not have “Dropped Kerbs”. Or if they do they don’t at the end of their road. St Lukes Avenue, Ramsgate is one, and College Road, Ramsgate, where I was nearly killed by a van driver recently. I had got on to the pavement, only to find I couldn’t get off as there wasn’t a dropped kerb at the junction with Margate Road! I returned and as I was riding down College Road, I stopped behind a van that was stationary and indicating it was pulling out. It didn’t it went into reverse, without checking to see me behind it! A pedestrian heard my screams, and warned the driver I was behind him, and he stopped reversing into me! This isn’t the first time a driver has nearly killed me by reversing into me, Duuurh!

          • Jimbone, are you one of the idiots who park over a dropped kerb, preventing mobility scooters access onto the pavement, or off it?

      • You must be flying over it in one of those cargo planes, there is no way you can get across the island in 15 minutes, impossible with new house builds and Clancey (southern water) shutting half the roads

  2. This should be interesting. The council seem unable to enforce illegal parking by ticketing motorists, so how will this be enforced?

  3. ive never heard anything so hilarious ! how long is considered to long to leave your engine on when in traffic, do we have to switch engines off at traffic lights

  4. what about all of the THOUSANDS of cars that will coming out of the new housing on haine road , there will be plenty of polution from them , two or three cars in every house – thats polution

  5. “The morning rush hour is of particular concern as children are exposed to roadside pollutants on their way to school”

    Lol its the school children being driven to school that’s causing the roadside pollutants. Self inflicted

  6. This should be introduced outside all schools. Why do parents arrive from 07:30 – 09:30am to drop off children and 14:30-16:00 to collect children and have engines running near residential homes. Some people work shift work and are disturbed by this inconsideration. Why also must we hear their music or telephone conversations. Roll on when TDC take up the powers to stop vehicles entering into area’s near schools during drop off and collection times. What came first the human body’s legs or the motor vehicle.

  7. Utter nonsense.

    TDC has proved itself incapable of enforcing illegal parking on pavements and yellow lines.

    TDC has proved itself incapable of enforcing litter being left on our beaches and other public areas.

    TDC is only kidding itself if it thinks it can enforce cars idling.

    Please remind me again how many Enforcement Officers are actually on the ground across Thanet at any one time . . .

  8. Normally I’d roll my eyes at yet another fine, but since I’ve had a shop in Broadstairs, the amount of cars or vans which park on the yellow lines outside and just sit there for 10 minutes with the engine going and the fumes which come into the shop, now with the door open, is terrible. It does choke you quickly in a confined space when there is hardly any pavement between the shop and the exhaust.

    But saying that, there is also a MINI outside which has been there months, parked in a pay and display bay, yet nothing has been done with it!! So I can’t see this being enforced too vigorously!

  9. I live near a school.
    The biggest problem is at school pickup time. In summer, cars sit outside 15 – 20 minutes with the engine running to keep the a/c going. In winter, it’s for the heating.
    So Monday to Friday, during term time, there could be a dozen cars parked nearby, engines running, fumes pumping into the street.
    No, thanks.
    And don’t try and kid me that petrol is too expensive.

    • Its the ones where the couple are sitting in the car, windows open whilst smoking and engine running that amaze me. At least it is a couple whereas most car occupants are just the driver.

  10. “Likely to have exceeded” but no proof it had. Will the fines/times be staggered to reflect the differing levels of pollutants that different Euro standards a vehicle meets? Do i understand from the article that drivers will be invited to turn the engine off first? Children exposed during rush hour, which effectively means children exposed because of the kids being driven on the school run.
    As tdc can’t control the parking over the school run anyway, its just and endless farce. Any chance the council could look at some of the basics first, decent toilets for visitors and residents would be a popular item to get right first.

  11. Maybe deal with the companies who dig up local roads. Lots of cones zero workers and constant hold ups. Once that’s cracked. Then maybe turn your attention to Joe public. It seems all green policies start and end with the public. Not the large companies that cause the problems in the first place. A Water Company that tips pooh and other untreated sewerage into the sea. Large supermarkets who stock some foods whose packing can’t be recycled.

    • “Maybe deal with the companies who dig up local roads. Lots of cones zero workers and constant hold ups”

      Because they work on the roads overnights when traffic is lower and there is statistically less risk of serious injury and death to workers…

  12. Ridiculous, a vehicle takes more fuel and creates greater emissions when it is started as opposed to ticking over, it will also create more traffic and slow vehicles down as drivers are starting there vehicles before disengage hand brake and put it in gear, less vehicles will make the green light. Or is this a lame effort to try inadequately to compensate for the vast air pollution and noise which will sky rocket if aircraft fly over ramsgate.

  13. Better tell KCC to stop shutting rds and putting rd works up around Thanet first .
    No one is going to turn engine off every 5 mins at a set of rd work lights .
    Complete joke and also they can’t monitor illegal parking so how are they going to do this . Complete joke .

  14. What a joke. They cant stop Manston road by Saint Gregory’s being blocked up every single day with cars on the pavement or any other school probably so this wont happen.

  15. No wonder my kids are choking on the school run as we walk to school. No one commenting above seems to gives a crap that their idling might be antisocial. Kids heads are a few feet lower than adults so they’re breathing in way more fumes than us. One of my kids had asthma and it makes me so cross that every day we have to walk past loads of idling cars outside the school. TDC should start by concentrating on school gates for the benefit of local homeowners and those who walk.

        • No probs Peter, but the bit I don’t get is that most children are allocated a school very close to where they live (obvs with certain exceptions). Most people could walk but don’t. My older one at secondary gets the bus so I get that not everyone is within walking distance. It’s just a few who make it such an unpleasant experience due to their selfishness leaving their engines on while they wait.

          • There’s a lot of working parents who drop their younger kids off at school and then drive straightto work. It might be impractical for them to walk their kids to school and then walk back home to get in a car and go to work.

            On the flip side, there are those who live very close without the work commitments who are just plain lazy. I do think we need to draw a distinction between the two.

  16. Didn’t we just have the motor bike meltdown encouraged by TDC despite supposedly the council adopting a climate emergency. Have I misunderstood something?

    • There really is a “”Climate Emergency”. All the climate scientists say so.
      Hundreds of world governments have signed up to it.
      Yet hardly anyone is doing anything about it.
      Turning your engine off whilst sitting outside the school, waiting for your children, isn’t going to save the planet.
      It will make the street a bit nicer, though.

  17. What a stupid idea-By this council who have allowed WESTWOOD CROSS to built and having ALL these houses going up Roads are now gridlocked This is the council who have allowed this LABOUR AND TORIES AND UKIP WELL THERE WERE USELESSS IN FACT ALL ARE USELESS.

    • “What a stupid idea-By this council who have allowed WESTWOOD CROSS to built and having ALL these houses going up Roads are now gridlocked”

      No, they’re not. It takes 15 mins maximum to cross westwood cross at peak times. Even with roadworks.

      “This is the council who have allowed this LABOUR AND TORIES AND UKIP WELL THERE WERE USELESSS IN FACT ALL ARE USELESS.”

      Are you just angry at something and want a bit of a rant? It seems that way, because you don’t even know who you’re supposed to be mad at…

  18. Maybe TDC are unaware that Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 already prohibits leaving your engine on when it is not needed, also known as stationary idling. This act enforces Rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states “you must not leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”. I live near a school. I wish people would turn their engines off. (Why can’t most children walk to school anyway?)

  19. Oh WOW, another way for the council to claw in cash, we’ll all be charged soon for exhaling and emitting co2 into the atmosphere!!

    • All you’ve got to do is turn your engine off if you’re parked up.
      It’s not rocket science. It’s nit a drama.

      It’ll save you money!

  20. I really wouldn’t worry about it. They haven’t got the staff to stop people parking all over double yellow lines and pavements across Thanet – let alone telling people to turn their engines off.

  21. The bottom-feeders in Thanet’s council chamber prove themselves totally clueless yet again.

    Comments by “anon” prove them to be either completely stupid or totally ignorant. My seven minute commute (Westgate – central Margate) each day (once upon a time) now often takes 15 minutes at 8.20am and sometimes well over twenty minutes at closing time.

    Thanet councillors coudn’t organise a tupperware party and the staff at TDC (those who actually bother to go into the office) are too lazy or useless to do anything either.

    Anyone at all involved with TDC are all “lowest common denominator”

  22. Kids are off school this week my travel time is now 10 minutes. In school term nearer 30 minutes.

    Seems abit rich to be moaning about the pollution to kids when it’s the kids parents doing the pollution to their kids.

    • Most modern Stagecoach buses (certainly the Loop buses) do exactly that. When they pull up at a stop, the engine cuts out. When the doors close, the engine kicks in again.
      Many modern cars do that, too.
      I don’t see why people are making such a fuss.
      Turning off the engine saves the environment and you cash.

      • Not that I have seen-they open the doors, start the engine & then sit at the stop at Cecil Square for five minutes or so. The 34 stopped at Asda & kept the engine going for minutes before switching it off, having a fag & then starting it up again for several minutes before departing.

  23. At Sturry level crossing you may notice that there are signs on most lamp posts asking people to switch off their engines whilst waiting for the trains to pass through the station. Perhaps contact local school head teachers asking them to politely put notices in their news letters to parents. I am still of the opinion that roads near school s should be no go area’s for parents dropping or collecting children during school terms and hours.

  24. Thanet Council have dished multiple permits for huge housing plots 80% of which cost £350k-£500k needing £50k-£80k incomes (not many jobs like that in thanet) therefore big increase in commuter cars – yes small % will train but most will car/van for practicality or tools

  25. How about fine idol councilors while thanet gets turned into a huge car park and they sit at home wondering how they can mess things up further

  26. That won’t happen, Thanet is only heading in one direction, the rock is rolling down the hill, and there is no stopping it now. Prior the airfield DCO, it should have been built on leaving greenfield alone, now greenfield will be built on fully and when the multiple time airfield fails again, if it isn’t turned to green area for liesure and is also built on one way or the other, and before anyone says it, the local plan won’t protect it, there will be no greenery left.

  27. Why do people drive their kids to school, surely most live within walking distance, senior schools are the worst , parents driving the kids taking them home and then letting them out rampage around the towns until late. When I was at school there were fewer of them, and we had to catch buses from Birchington to Ramsgate and back every day via Margate harbour or clock tower, never in all that time was I driven to school.

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