Stopped for more than minute? Remember #EnginesOff

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council’s anti-idling awareness campaign is part of our commitment to help reduce emissions and improve air quality for everyone.

What is idling?

Idling is where drivers leave their vehicle’s engine running whilst the vehicle is stationary.

Idling and pollution

Air pollution has a significant effect on public health, and poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. In 2010, the Environment Audit Committee considered that the cost of health impacts of air pollution in the UK was likely to exceed estimates of £8 to 20 billion.

Numerous studies have established that long-term exposure to air pollution (over years or lifetimes) reduces life expectancy, mainly due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Short-term exposure (over hours or days) to elevated levels of air pollution can also cause a range of health impacts, including effects on lung function, exacerbation of asthma, increases in respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions and mortality.

Engine idling produces air pollution and increases the amount of toxic air that we breathe. The microscopic pollutants can result in a range of health problems as presented in reports from Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.

Why you should stop idling

  • Every minute, an idling car produces enough exhaust emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful chemicals, including cyanide, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and tiny particles called PM2.5
  • The Royal College of Physicians say 40,000 premature deaths a year are linked to air pollution, with car idling being a contributing factor. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, as are people with existing conditions such as asthma and other lung complaints.
  • An idling engine burns fuel less efficiently than when the vehicle is moving and so produces more emissions than when travelling. Additionally, the toxic gases produced by idling are all emitted in the same place, so localised air pollution is higher. This is particularly relevant near schools because research shows that exposing children to high levels of air pollution can stunt lung growth, as well as causing behavioural and mental health problems.

What we are doing

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is to engage with drivers and, when necessary, will take enforcement action against vehicles idling within the borough.

Legislation and enforcement

Unnecessary engine idling is an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act (1988). There is a borough-wide traffic management order in place which prohibits vehicle engine idling within Epsom and Ewell.

Drivers who are caught idling by our Enforcement Officers will be asked to switch off their engines and warned that failing to do so will lead to a fine. If the driver refuses to switch off their engine after the request, and do not have a permitted reason for running their engine, they will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £20. The notice must be paid within 28 days, or it will increase to £40.

Exemptions exist where the engine is required to power specific functions of the vehicle, such as refrigeration units.

How you can help

  • Cut down your use of motorised vehicles
  • Change your vehicle to a more environmentally friendly option
  • Use more public transport
  • Choose to walk
  • If you must drive, switch off your engine if you are stationary for more than a minute
  • Consider what your business can do to reduce its air pollution impact - In doing so you could promote a more active lifestyle for your employees
  • Support our campaign by downloading various resources, which can be found at the end of this page. (PDF files of A4 posters)

If you wish to get involved with our campaign or report an idling hotspot at which you would like to see our officers attend, please contact us.