Intolerance: Fines for Idling

Glasgow is leading Scotland with a get-tough approach on drivers who needlessly leave their vehicle engines running -- while Edinburgh is letting offenders off with a warning. City officials in Glasgow said yesterday 2006-02-07 that they had issued 16 drivers with 20_GBP fines for the offence since the City launched the crackdown two months ago. However, environmental wardens in Edinburgh admitted that they were continuing a softly-softly line by simply asking drivers to switch off their engines. The different approaches follow Glasgow City taking legal advice to ensure it could act under new 'Scottish Executive' regulations to cut down city centre pollution. The drive is being backed by a 150_000_GBP publicity campaign which states:
'I'll wait here and keep the engine running -- how many times have you said that? Idling vehicles are contributing to Glasgow's air pollution.'
A Glasgow City spokesman was unable to say what type of vehicles were among those whose drivers had been fined, but said none had appealed. The worst offenders are thought to be taxi and bus drivers. Bus drivers have been regularly seen parked with their engines running, with no passengers on board. The spokesman said it had previously followed 'Scottish Executive' guidance, which recommended a soft approach. The City had thought that if a driver was warned about idling their vehicle engine unnecessarily and either switched it off or drove away, no fine could be issued. However, the spokesman said the legal advice had made clear that the regulations enabled the council to fine drivers without warning them first. She said:
'The 20_GBP fixed penalty will now be issued if a vehicle is observed committing the idling offence. Enforcement officers from environmental protection services will issue tickets, particularly in areas where there have been persistent problems.'
The spokesman said the officials were not patrolling streets for offenders, but issued fines where they saw idling vehicles during the course of their other duties. She added:
'We are not publishing details of figures broken down at present into types of vehicles. As and when it is appropriate, we will report to a committee with appropriate comment on any data.'
However, Edinburgh City said it was sticking to a softer line. A spokesman said:
'Environmental wardens will inform drivers they are committing an offence, ask them to switch off their engines and if they fail to do so, a fixed penalty will be issued. To date, all parties have complied with the wardens' requests.'
Motoring groups said buses and taxis rather than cars should be targeted, but Glasgow's main bus operator said its drivers should not be leaving their engines idling. Mr.Neil Greig, the head of policy for the AA Motoring Trust in Scotland, said:
'We have no problems with this law in principle, but the issue is the way it is implemented. 'Private cars always seem to be targeted, but they often have the most modern engines. While car drivers may keep their engines on for short periods to keep themselves warm while waiting to pick up someone, buses, lorries and taxis often run their engines for much longer and emit far more pollution in diesel fumes.'
A spokesman for 'First', Glasgow's largest bus firm, said drivers were instructed to switch off engines while their vehicles were parked rather than waiting at bus stops to pick up passengers. 'Divide as Glasgow revs up drive against vehicle pollution', Alastair Dalton, The Scotsman, 2006-02-08


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually this is just another stealth tax and more about quids in than saving the planet. Look at the emissions as a resutl of the same city's policy on speed humps.

2/21/2006 09:07:00 pm  

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