Portsmouth tell idling motorists: ‘cough, cough, engine off’

Portsmouth City Council is the latest local authority to launch an anti-idling campaign.

The campaign, which they have called ‘cough, cough, engine off’, encourages drivers to switch off their engines when stationary to reduce the amount of harmful emissions polluting the city’s air.

The council’s air quality strategy highlighted that 50% of air pollution in Portsmouth comes from traffic including cars, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses. Public Health England estimate that in Portsmouth, 95 deaths per year occur where air pollution has been a contributing factor.

Funded by the government’s Clean Air Fund, the campaign runs until March. A four-week radio campaign aims to target those listening to the radio while driving, specifically parents dropping children off to school and commuters driving to work.

Outdoor adverts positioned in the city’s five Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) act as a reminder to drivers to switch off when stationary. In addition, resources have been created for schools and local businesses and myth-busting facts will be shared via the council’s social media.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Portsmouth’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, said: ‘The Highway Code states that drivers must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. So not only is idling an offence, it is damaging to the environment.

‘Our campaign reminds drivers to turn off their engine when not in use, but also highlights the damaging affect vehicle pollution has on the environment and our health.

‘While we are working on a variety of schemes to encourage people out of their cars, we know that many people need to drive. We want people who drive in Portsmouth to be mindful of vehicle pollution and when they know they are going to stop for a minute or more, to turn their engine off. This small act can make a massive difference to levels of pollution in the city.’

Last week in Richmond upon Thames, a mime-artist asked drivers at a level crossing as part of their council’s campaign, ahead of March 1 when drivers in the borough could be fined £40 for idling.

Hundreds of black balloons were also released at Richmond Station as volunteers spoke to commuters and pedestrians about the importance of anti-idling efforts.

‘One of the biggest contributors to poor air quality is the harmful emissions produced by drivers leaving their engines running whilst stopped for lengthy periods,’ said Cllr Alexander Ehmann, cabinet member for transport, streetscene and air quality at Richmond Council.


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