Parents could be fined for leaving engines running during school run

Parents doing the school run could face a fine if they leave their car engine running while parked up.

The penalties could be introduced to cut the risk of air pollution and damage to children's health from fumes.

Calls for "no-idling zones" outside schools, hospitals and care homes have been issued by a number of organisations.

These include the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) and Public Health England (PHE).

Parents in some parts of London already face £80 charges for leaving their engines running, with Westminster City Council having introduced the no-idling zones.

The guidelines are designed to protect vulnerable people like children. Credit: PA

Nice and PHE both argue that a national introduction of the bans would protect huge numbers of vulnerable people from air pollution.

Children under 14, people aged over 65 and those with conditions such as asthma and heart problems would benefit most.

According to Westminster City Council, a car idling for one minute produces enough exhaust emissions containing harmful chemicals to fill 150 balloons.

Bylaws could be introduced as a way to enforce no idling, Nice and PHE say.

PHE figures suggest that long-term exposure to particulate air pollution accounts for the equivalent of around 25,000 deaths a year in England.

Meanwhile, the health impact of air pollution caused by humans in the UK is estimated to cost between £8.5 billion and £18.6 billion a year.

Air pollution accounts for around 25,000 deaths a year in the UK. Credit: PA

Professor Paul Lincoln, chairman of the Nice guideline committee, said: "Air pollution is a major risk to our health and so far, suggested measures have not managed to tackle the problem sufficiently.

"This guidance is based upon the best evidence available. It outlines a range of practical steps that local authorities can take, such as the implementation of no-idling zones, to reduce emissions and protect the public.

"I hope that this guidance will prove influential in reducing the amount of air pollution we are exposed to every day."

The guidance, which is aimed at councils, staff working in transport, employers, health workers and the public, also aims to raise awareness of cutting car journeys through more walking and cycling.

Other measures include providing charge points for electric vehicles in workplaces and residential areas, and promoting car sharing schemes or car clubs