Anti-idling zones could force motorists to turn off engines outside schools

Anti-idling zones could force motorists to turn off engines outside schools

Motorists could be forced to turn off their engines outside schools or risk a fine.

Anti-idling zones could be implemented across Bristol next year in a bid to improve quality of life in the city.

The move comes as comes after a proposal by Lib Dem councillor Mark Wright received cross-party support earlier this week.

The zones aim to cut emissions from cars which remain running whilst idle, Bristol Live reported.

They have been adopted by other local authorities including Bury and Southampton in recent months.

Air quality in Bristol regularly breaches legal limits and pollution contributes to the deaths of more than 300 people a year in the city.

Last year the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) produced new guidance which recommended “no vehicle idling” areas where “vulnerable people” are located.

Examples include outside schools, hospitals and care homes, and in areas where exposure to road traffic related air pollution is high.

Stationary idling has been an offence across the country since 1988 and if caught could land you with a £20 fine – but councils have historically found this difficult to enforce due to the low fine.

However on Tuesday night the council decided it would work to implement four pilot zones in the city by autumn 2019.

The aim would be to investigate how enforcement of the zones would be resourced as well as the cost.

And if feasible introduce zones outside every school and in every park in the city by spring 2020.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Wright said he was “really happy” that the motion passed with such a huge amount of support.

He added: "I know already that many councillors are keen that schools and parks in their areas are the ones to be chosen for the pilot schemes, so I’m pretty sure this is going to turn out to be a popular scheme that will improve air quality and driving habits in our city."

The motion was altered and seconded by Labour councillor Tom Brook who said during Tuesday’s meeting that “action was needed” in order to enforce anti-idling.

He added: “To be clear this does not target those de-icing their vehicles, fixing faults or stuck in traffic – the law exempts those.

“This targets those irresponsible individuals who pollute our air and damage our health with their horrible, selfish laziness.

“Councils have struggled to enforce this, but difficulties in the past should not stop us from enforcing this now.”

The Conservative Group also supported the motion but Cllr Liz Radford called on the council to take a “bold approach” and consider enforcing it city-wide.

Meanwhile leader of the Green group Eleanor Combley supported the motion but said there needed to be “real solutions” to combat air pollution in the city.

She added: “We need walking and cycling infrastructure and investment in public transport that gives Bristolians a real alternative and frees them from the stranglehold of the private car.

“We need traffic exclusion zones around schools so that families feel safe to choose active travel rather than driving to school, and so that children are not exposed to illegal levels of pollution in the classroom and the playground throughout the day.

“We need a clean air zone which charges the dirtiest vehicles to enter the most polluted areas of our city, as this is the most effective way to bring down illegal and harmful levels of air pollution as soon as possible.”

Bristol is also one of 45 local authorities which has been ordered to create a clean air zone by central government after it lost a number of court cases.

The aim of a clean air zone is to improve air quality. The council is currently looking at a number of option for Bristol’s clean air zone which may include charging private motorists.

It is considering whether to introduce a congestion charge which would require all motorists a set fee for entering the city.

A council spokesman said: “We are developing a Clean Air Plan for Bristol which will include a range of measures to reduce air pollution to meet legal limits.

“We are working with transport groups, communities affected and experts to develop the right plan for Bristol and will likely consult on the city’s options next year.

“We are also calling on the Government to help cities like Bristol and Bath as unacceptable levels of harmful pollution are affecting many towns, cities and regions across the UK.

“Alongside other Core Cities and the UK100 network of local government leaders, we are asking Government to commit to much-needed additional funding and to establish a national targeted vehicle renewal scheme so that together we can effectively tackle this public health crisis.”

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