Idling vehicles

Traffic is one of the major causes of air pollution in London. Reducing emissions from road transport is one of the most effective ways to improve air quality.

Idling (leaving your vehicle engine running while stationary) creates air pollution and is usually unnecessary. It is also an offence in law under the Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

When the vehicle is parked up and stationary please switch off your engine to help clean up the air that we all breathe. 

We are using new powers as part of an experimental traffic order which came into effect from 1 November 2018 to fine motorists who pollute the borough by leaving their engines running. This is part of the council’s drive to help tackle poor air quality across the borough.

Our traffic wardens will now be able to issue an £80 penalty charge notice (£40 if paid within 14 days from the date of issue) to motorists who have stopped with their engine idling in parking and loading bays, taxi ranks, or any roads where waiting is restricted. 

You can report unnecessary engine idling using our H&F Report it app on your smartphone or online.

Report stationary idling

Or contact the council at

Idling: the myths and the truth

Idling creates pollution and is usually unnecessary for all sorts of reasons, yet many of us still do it. So our myth-buster is here to give you the truth.

Myth: Starting and stopping my engine frequently will cause more pollution than just letting it run.

Actually, turning off an engine and then restarting after a minute will cause less pollution than letting it run and also uses less fuel.

Myth: But I need to keep my battery fully charged, so I have to keep the engine running!

Modern car batteries need less engine running time to stay charged.

Myth: If it’s cold outside I need to keep my engine running for it to stay warm.

Your engine will stay warm for 30-60 minutes after switching the engine off.

Myth: If I’m parked on a yellow line, keeping my engine running means I won’t get a fine.

Traffic wardens can fine you if you are parked somewhere you shouldn’t be, whether your engine is running or not. But surely it’s better to idle because stopping and starting will wear out the engine? This is no longer a problem with modern engines.

But, but, but……. no ifs, no buts, no idling!

How can I help to clean up London’s air?

Poor air quality is a major concern for Londoners. Our air contains high levels of pollution, including gases such as nitrogen oxides and particles known as ‘particulate matter’, which are harmful to human health.

Pollution can have a serious impact on your health. There are nearly 10,000 early deaths every year in the capital attributed to poor air quality. What’s more, children’s growing lungs are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, and it’s thought that pollution could be responsible for between 15-30% of new cases of childhood asthma.

So putting a stop to idling is a simple way we can all help to clean up the air that we all breathe

There are many ways you can help.

You can:

  • switch off your engine when stationary
  • avoid making short trips by car
  • whenever possible, walk, cycle or even scoot

How can I reduce the impact pollution has on me?

Research has shown you breathe in less pollution when walking or cycling compared to travelling in a car. You can further reduce your exposure to air pollution when walking or cycling by:

  • choosing routes without too much traffic
  • planning a low pollution route using the clean air route finder
  • signing up to the AirTEXT ( service which will send you an alert when pollution levels are high

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