Switch off your engine for cleaner air

Anti idling

Air pollution is a major health concern, and the main source is road transport. Some vehicle journeys cannot be helped, but leaving your engine running (idling) when stationary, creates unnecessary air pollution. Putting a stop to idling is a simple way we can all help to clean up the air that we breathe.

Canterbury City Council’s Air Quality Action Plan promises action on vehicle idling by enforcing anti-idling regulations to improve air quality. 

These regulations give our Enforcement officers the power to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to drivers who do not switch off their engines when stationary, when asked to. The rules apply to all vehicles including cars, taxis, buses and commercial vehicles such as lorries. The initial fine amount is £20, but this increases to £40 if it isn’t paid within 28 days.

Reducing air pollution from idling vehicles, especially in sensitive areas such as around schools should have a positive impact on the health of all people, but particularly for children whose height can increase their exposure to air pollution.

There’s no need to leave your engine running if you’re parked up waiting for someone or you’re in traffic and haven’t moved in a while. Idling wastes fuel and can increase wear and tear on your engine.  With modern vehicles, the cost of switching off the engine and starting up again after a minute or more will be less than the cost of leaving the engine idling.

It’s so easy to play your part in improving our air quality. Simply switch off your engine if you’re going to be stationary for more than a minute.

So by switching off your engine when it’s practical and safe to do so, you’ll help protect your health, save money and reduce air pollution.

Know the facts and dispel the myths about idling


Starting an engine causes more pollution than idling 


Turning an engine off and restarting it after a minute or longer causes less pollution than keeping the engine idling and uses less fuel


The engine needs to stay on to keep the battery fully charged 


Modern batteries need less engine running time to work and don’t need the engine on constantly to keep them charged


It is better to idle the vehicle as turning the engine off and on wears it out 


Ignitions in modern cars have eliminated this problem. Idling dirties your engine with incomplete combustion increasing wear and tear. Maintaining your vehicle is important for preventing breakdowns and reducing air pollution


Catalytic converters need to be hot to work properly 


Yes, but an idling engine does not keep a catalytic convertor warm.  They retain their heat for about 25 minutes after an engine is switched off


When it’s cold I need to keep my vehicle and passengers warm or warm up my engine 


It can take up to an hour for an engine to cool down.  Turning off your engine on but keeping the ignition on and the fan blowing, will provide warm air for some time

Published: 29 January 2020

Sign up for email alerts

You can sign up to receive notifications when a post is added to an area you’re interested in.

Sign up