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07 November 2017

Clean air zones proposed for St Albans

Plans to reduce air pollution in the St Albans District by creating Clean Air Zones are to be considered.

They would be set up in areas where the air quality is poor and where vulnerable people such as the elderly or children are concentrated.

A scheme to use Civil Enforcement Officers to fine drivers who keep their engines idling while parked will also be looked at.

The proposals were recommended to St Albans City and District Council's Cabinet by the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on Wednesday 1 November.

The Cabinet will now decide whether to implement any of the suggested actions.

Committee members put forward the proposals after discussing a report about a clean air strategy for the District and the implications of enforcing a no-idling policy.

Air pollution can contribute to heart and lung disease with one of the major causes being exhaust emissions from vehicles. These can build up where there is slow moving or stationary traffic.

A Clean Air Zone is an area where action is taken to improve air quality to boost public health. They must be set up in response to an air quality problem.

The Government has outlined anti-pollution measures that could be taken within zones including encouraging green travel and optimising traffic flow to reduce congestion.

It is making £255 million available to local authorities in England to help them create such zones.

Under the Road Traffic Regulations, it is an offence to leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while parked.

An enforcement officer may request a driver to switch off the engine and issue a fine of £20 if they refuse to do so.

However, they can only enforce this rule in roads where parking restrictions are in place.

The Committee recommended that the Council's existing Civil Enforcement Officers should look out for idling vehicles, speak to the drivers and issue fines where appropriate.

In addition, the option of employing extra staff dedicated to the task was also supported.

A plan to create Clean Air Zones should be developed while volunteer anti-idling champions from the community should continue to be recruited and trained.

The champions would help with the Council's current campaign to educate residents about the dangers of engine idling and the need to reduce emissions.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the Committee's Chair, said: "The Council has undertaken campaigns against the problem of engine idling.

"There have been publicity drives, social media activities and engagement with schools and other organisations.

"However, the consensus among the Committee members was that much more needs to be done to change the behaviour of drivers and we should look at developing our strategy further.

"There was a strong feeling that we should set up Clean Air Zones in the District. Moreover, Civil Enforcement Officers should be tasked with identifying idling vehicles and taking appropriate action against offenders, including issuing Fixed Penalty Notices.

"As a Council, we are committed to reducing air pollution and I hope that the Cabinet accepts these recommendations and takes them forward without delay."

To view the report, please see: http://bit.ly/2zzICfQ



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