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Norwich city centre drivers who idle engines while stopped may face £20 fines

PUBLISHED: 07:32 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:18 08 March 2018

A day of mist and pollution in Norwich. Picture: Simon Finlay

A day of mist and pollution in Norwich. Picture: Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk.

Drivers who leave their engines running while stopped on Norwich city centre streets could face £20 fines, with councillors next week set to agree to seek new powers from the government.

Norwich City Council is to ask the government to enable its civil enforcement officers to issue the fines for motorists who leave their engines idling, amid concern over pollution.

If the Secretary of State agrees, the regulations would cover cars, buses and taxis on public roads in parts of the city centre covered by an air quality action plan.

It would not apply to vehicles moving slowly due to road works or congestion or vehicles stopped at traffic lights and officers say the aim is to change behaviour, rather than rack up fines.

The council’s civil enforcement officers would be responsible for monitoring motorists who leave their engines running and the enforcement procedure would involve up to three stages.

In the first instance, the enforcement officer would ask the driver to turn off the engine. If the driver fails to comply, then a £20 fixed penalty notice would be issued.

If the driver refuses to provide the necessary details for that fixed penalty notice, then a fine of up to £1,000 can be issued.

Norwich City Council’s cabinet will decide whether to seek the powers when they meet on Wednesday next week.

The report which will come before councillors states: “The pollutant of most concern in Norwich in terms of air quality is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as current levels to do not meet the national health based standard (of 40 μg/m3 as an annual mean).

“In Norwich, the most significant source of NO2 is from emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from road traffic. The effect of air pollution can be particularly significant on those living in cities and is often concentrated where vehicles are queuing or where vehicles tend to wait with engines idling.

“Areas of particular concern in Norwich include streets where buses, taxis and commercial vehicles are idling for extended periods of time, collectively this adds to levels of air pollution.”

Streets with particular pollution problems include Castle Meadow, St Augustines Street, Riverside Road, Chapelfield North and St Stephens Street - which are likely to be the targets for enforcement.

Bus and taxi firms were split on the Norwich City Council proposals to fine drivers who leave their engine to idle.

Colin McAulay, manager of Norwich Airport Taxi Association said: “Some black cabs are basically refrigerators in bad weather. You couldn’t keep working without the engine running, especially older drivers.

“Why should we be fined for a money making scheme?”

Steve Wickers, Managing Director for First Eastern Counties said: “We work closely with Norfolk County and City Councils to initiate improvements in air quality and the local environment, and would welcome further discussion on how this scheme would work if it is launched.

“There is a major problem with congestion and emission levels in the city, especially at peak times, and cars are the main contributor to the situation.

“Buses can help provide the answer to both congestion and air quality.”

What do you think?

This is what people in the city had to say about the possibility of fines:

Graham England, Acle, 73.

“It seems pretty fair to me from two points of view.

“You save your fuel and obviously help pollution, eventually at least.”

Jody Watts, Dereham, 22.

“I think it’s a good idea, as it will discourage people from causing pollution.”

Robert Wilkin, Norwich, 77.

“I don’t agree. They’ve got emissions down as low as they can.

“They would do far better to look at old buses that are on the road, and old lorries.”

Nick George, Norwich, 19.

“The cost in enforcing it would probably be better used to go towards other things like recycling.

“So I think it’s a good idea in theory but cost-wise it’s not going to be efficient.”

Gian Darsacchi, Dereham, 44.

“I think it’s a good idea but I lived in the centre a couple of years ago and I honestly I don’t think there’s a pollution problem.”

Kevin Barber, Little Plumstead, 64.

“They’ve made such a bad job of the traffic management in Norwich.

“If traffic was moving faster and the engines were working better you’d get less pollution.”

Paige Cannell, Sprowston.

“I’ve been guilty of leaving my engine running for a few minutes or so when I’m out driving, but if it’s any longer I’ll turn it off.”

James Moon, Sprowston, 25.

“It is just common sense. “If people are leaving their engines on for at least five minutes then it’s not sensible.”

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