If Westminster Council can tackle “idling” why can’t H&F?

Local residents complain that lorries being used for the building work on the Sovereign Court development are routinely leaving their engines running while parked in Glenthorne Road. This practice is known as “idling”. Under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 the law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary.

But Hammersmith and Fulham Council doesn’t seem to do much about it.

Westminster Council has introduced £80 Penalty Charge Notice for “idling”. The main point about it is a deterrent. Only around 20 fines have been issued but that is because of the 20,000 drivers approached by “air marshals” the overwhelming majority have readily agreed to switch off their engines. I have asked Hammersmith and Fulham Council if we have any plans to do the same.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has had an “Air Quality Commission”. In evidence to it one local resident David Cashman wrote:

“I am a 73 year old resident of Askham Court Sheltered Housing scheme. My flat is directly opposite the newly built Queensmill School for children with autism in Askham Road, W12. Children are brought to the school from a wide area in Ford diesel mini-buses in the morning and collected again mid-afternoon. Ten or more buses queue in Askham Road for up to 20 minutes to enter the school forecourt to drop-off and pick-up the children (see attachments). Most drivers run their vehicle engines on idle while they wait, regardless of seasonal temperatures. I endeavored to make school forecourt staff aware of both the illegality of idling vehicals while stationary and the possible adverse health effects on the children and others from inhaling diesal/nitrogen dioxide fumes. I gave them a print-out of the Air Quality Commission post of 11th August 2015 on the H&F website which declared the Council’s determination to tackle the ‘deadly problem of air pollution’ in the borough.

As a result of that action I was introduced to a HATS bus company supervisor who assured me that drivers would be instructed to follow correct procedure to switch off engines while stationary outside the school. My intervention has had no effect. Drivers continue to idle their vehicles.

On their website HATS state, ‘all vehicles are LEZ compliant… we are working toward the latest Euro 5 emission standard’. I understand that the World Health Organization has classified diesel exhaust as carcinogenic and that there is no safe level for humans. In the light of this statement I am concerned for the health of the children in the mornings aboard buses that are parked tight behind each other and where exhaust fumes could be entering vehicle cabs. I am also concerned about the general level of pollution and its effect on my fellow elderly sheltered housing residents as well as other people in my neighborhood.

I would like to bring the situation described above to the attention of the Commission and also request an urgent investigation to establish whether the circumstances in Askham Road require immediate action by H&F Council. I notice that H&F Council do not have dedicated enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 to drivers who ignore requests to turn off stationary engines. I urge the Commission to recommend the introduction of enforcement officers. Their presence would have ensured an immediate solution to the idling problem in Askham Road. I look forward to your response.”

An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion.

Research has shown that air pollution is a “particular concern for child health, as it can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity”.

Matters were made much worse by Gordon Brown’s disastrous 2001 Budget which encouraged motorists to switch from petrol to diesel – the result of the EU being lobbied by vested interests.

Anyway it’s all very well for the Council to virtue signal, set up commissions and say it is “listening” to these concerns. But we need action. Clean air not hot air!

As I’ve noted before at present the the £22 million Public Health budget is largely wasted. Why not employ a few “air marshals”? Why not provide them with the power to impose a penalty of those who refuse to stop poisoning us and our children?




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