Camden’s poisoned air: ‘We need instant fines for idlers’
Council yet to issue a toxic air penalty
11 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley
Henry Newman has questioned why nobody has been fined for engine idling
A TOWN Hall hit squad set up to crack down on car drivers who idle their engines has yet to issue a single fine.
The zero number of penalties suggested a lack of serious enforcement for one of Camden’s measures aimed at tackling the borough’s toxic air crisis, according to the opposition Conservative group on the council.
Idling – running a car’s engine when it is parked up – leads to poisonous emissions being pumped out of the vehicle’s exhaust pipe while it is stationary.
The council formed a team of “environmental enforcement officers” wearing black and grey uniforms to target hotspots, such as school runs, last March. A new report discussed at one of Camden’s cross-party committees, however, confirmed the power to issue parking-style tickets to drivers had not so far been used.
Conservative councillor Henry Newman said: “Nobody has been fined yet and if we are going to take this seriously, we need to actually have serious enforcement, especially given we have dedicated staff on it.”
Camden’s environment chief, Labour councillor Adam Harrison, told the culture and environment scrutiny committee this month: “The problem is that the process that you have to follow is that you have to ask the person to switch off. I think this is set out more or less in the law – and everybody has so far.”
He added: “I think we’ve always been clear from the beginning that it is about behaviour change, as much issuing fines, although I am on the record as saying you should be able to issue fines more quickly.”
Cllr Harrison said: “I think instant fines would again help send that message out, and probably change behaviour even further. We are not at a point yet where we are able to do that, but I think it’s an area which the government is looking at.”
Adam Harrison: ‘Instant fines would help us’
Currently, no road in Camden is considered to have safe levels of pollutants for humans and the council has made a public commitment to reaching World Health Organisation standards by 2020; an ambition which exceeds the aims of most local authorities.
It recently set up a “Citizens Assembly” to take recommendations from residents as to how to tackle climate change.
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