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Parents who leave cars 'idling' outside Sheffield schools to face fines

A new anti-idling policy has launched in Sheffield, which aims to get parents to switch off their engines as they pick up and drop of children at school.

Editorial Image Credit: Press Association

The policy launched on World Clean Air Day, Thursday 21 June.

Signs are being installed across schools in the city which warn that parents could face fines for leaving their cars running – and choke the environment for others, particularly during pick-up and drop-off times.

Sheffield is one of the first places to introduce the policy outside of London.

It is one of a number of air quality measures set to be announced and consulted on to improve the city’s air quality.

Fortunately, we are not located in one of the areas of highest pollution however we’re proud to be regarded as an eco-school which has been supporting wider city initiatives such as Active Travel and Air Aware. We know many of our parents drive to school and that’s why we’re planning to invest in many new innovations such as a Green Screen which improves the environment for our children.

We are delighted to support the Air Aware Campaign and have applied for new signage at the school to complement all the other work we are doing to improve the environment for our brilliant pupils.

– Catherine Carr, Head teacher at Hunters Bar

It is likely that the new policy, set to be signed off by Cabinet Member for Transport and Development Jack Scott this month, will be through the issuing of fixed penalty notices.

Enforcement will start when schools return in September this year, with the top 20 schools that are in areas of highest air pollution being targeted.

These signs are a great step forward in our bid to make Sheffield fairer, cleaner and greener. Launching this on world clean air day is a statement of intent and sign of my determination to Sheffield and its people –we will do everything we can to make Sheffield’s air safe for everyone.

As a parent, I’m all too aware of the people who leave their engines running at the school gates. This is so damaging to the environment outside schools. Air pollution tends to gather about a metre from the ground, so children are particularly vulnerable.

Of course we’d prefer people to choose walk or bike to schools wherever possible.But we must take steps to reduce air pollution and this policy is a bold step in addressing the issues faced by cities like ours.

Our children are most exposed to toxic air and it can affect their lungs for life –so I want to urge parents that if you do pick up and drop off your children by car, please don’t leave the engine running while you wait. It’s bad for them, their classmates and it’s bad for you.

We also know there are even bigger challenges in the near future. We have to pickup where the government has failed to take real action. It’s possible that they will require Sheffield to introduce fines and charges. The scheme we are launching today will help to make our air cleaner, greener and safer for everyone.

– Councillor Jack Scott

Sheffield City Council launched a new consultation to tackle poor air quality across the city last year.

A separate green city consultation attracted more than 7,000 replies.

The consultation asked whether the Council should introduce a scheme to enforce drivers that leave their engines running outside schools – the vast majority of people backed the move.

97%
agreed those vulnerable to the effects of pollution, especially children, should be protected
85%
agreed idling outside schools, hospitals, care homes and other locations in Sheffield is a problem

Sheffield City Council’s Air Aware campaign has been saying “Switch off when you drop off” to parents if they take their children to school by car and has given head teachers the opportunity to have a free banner outside their school to really push that message.

The new anti-idling measures are part of a range of actions taken by the council in recent months.