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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 09:07 GMT
Drivers fuming over fines
Car exhaust fumes
Drivers will be asked to turn their engines off
Motorists could face instant fines if they keep their engines running unnecessarily.

New regulations are being introduced in Darlington in an attempt to cut down on pollution caused by traffic fumes.

Vehicles which stand with their motors idling will be targeted by the town's wardens and on-the-spot 20 penalties issued to those who refuse to switch off.

The new rule will affect both private and commercial transport, including buses and taxis.

It is important to keep the temperature in the bus up for reasons of visibility and the comfort of the passengers

Paul De Santis, Stagecoach North East

Jim Lilico, pollution and regulations manager for Darlington Council, told BBC Radio Cleveland: "The powers are going to be given to our officers to authorise our uniformed officers to speak to motorists to turn their engines off.

"It's only then the stick comes into operation and there is a 20 fixed penalty."

Mr Lilico said there were "mitigating circumstances" for some drivers, including elderly drivers trying to keep their cars warm and recovery vehicle drivers.

But he said he hoped he would get co-operation from the motorists

"If it is someone who has just pulled up outside a shop and is waiting for someone else to come out, why wait with the engine running?

"I have just passed two empty buses like that...they will be the vehicles which will be approached.

Environmental issue

But the plan has been heavily criticised by bus and taxi companies.

Paul De Santis, commercial director of Stagecoach North East said: "There are implications for bus users in terms of boarding a cold vehicle, particularly in cold months.

"There is an environmental issue here to be thought through carefully, you can actually create more pollution from a diesel engine by switching the engine off and back on again than idling efficiently.

"Because of the size of the bus... it takes the engine a long time to warm up.

"It is important to keep the temperature in the bus up for reasons of visibility and the comfort of the passengers."

Mick Kennedy, from the Darlington Taxi Federation, said: "We can see where the council is coming from, however I would like the council to allow us to keep our engines running in cold weather."


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See also:

05 Aug 02 | Politics
01 Apr 02 | Health
06 Mar 02 | Health
06 May 99 | Medical notes
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