Clean air campaign urges drivers not to idle

Published: Friday 8th December 17

The borough’s network of volunteer Air Quality Champions and council officers have been out talking to drivers in Battersea and Putney to encourage them not to leave their engines idling.

Students helped spread the message

The anti-idling events are part of an ongoing campaign to tackle air pollution – especially near schools – and follow a similar successful event in Tooting in September. 

Wandsworth is one of 15 local authorities taking part in the Vehicle Idling Action Campaign, launched a year ago with support from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund. The campaign includes actions to target parents who park outside schools and leave engines running while they wait to pick up their children.

Training was given to the Air Quality Champions before last month’s event, hosted by Sacred Heart School in Battersea. They spoke to parents at pick-up time outside Sacred Heart as well as nearby Falconbrook and High View primary schools, backed by council environmental protection officers.

A special assembly was held

They engaged with 40 drivers about the amount of pollution caused by idling engines and the impact on local air quality and encouraged them to turn off their engines while they are waiting or parked.

A special assembly was also provided to school councillors and junior travel ambassadors and they were given the chance to play a giant air quality-themed games of snakes and ladders in the playground to help drive the message home. The youngsters then reported back what they had learned to their classes and families.

The second event on Tuesday (Dec 5) was carried out at the Merlin School, Putney.

The Environmental Protection Team engaged with drivers in front of the school while parents were picking their children up.

Air quality snakes and ladders

The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said:  “Vehicle idling is an offence for which drivers can be fined. Idling engines can produce twice as much pollution as the engine of a car in motion, and the emissions contain a cocktail of dangerous chemicals.

“That’s why awareness-raising events like this one – especially near schools - are a key part of our Air Quality Action Plan. Frequent restarting does not damage modern engines or batteries, uses less fuel and creates less pollution, so we would urge parents picking up their children by car to think twice before leaving engines running.”

Wandworth Council is taking a wide range of actions to tackle air pollution in the borough, including:

  • Training members of the council’s civic enforcement team how to explain to drivers of stationary vehicles why they should not leave engines running. If drivers refuse to switch engines off they can issue fixed penalty notices.
  • Recruiting and training air quality champions.
  • A rolling programme of environmental theatre productions in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
  • Advising new building developments and infrastructure projects in Nine Elms on reducing dust and diesel pollution
  • Supporting Clean Air Day and encouraging local people to make clean air pledges
  • Helping schools develop School Travel Plans which reduce the number of cars used on the school run through initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools.
  • Championing car clubs which dramatically reduce total vehicle use and take older, more polluting cars off the road. Wandsworth now has the highest car club membership in London.
  • Providing a comprehensive network of electric vehicle charging points.
  • Promoting cycling and investing in the borough’s cycle network. Wandsworth now has the fastest growing cycling rate in the country according to Government statistics.
  • Free bike safety lessons for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
  • Introducing a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.
  • Restrictions on delivery vehicles in busy high streets
  • A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
  • Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
  • Lobbying for cleaner buses
  • The council's Smarter Driving campaign encourages drivers to take simple steps to reduce their emissions, like inflating tires, and offers free emissions checks.

For more information about the work being carried out locally to improve air quality, visit

Read the Air Quality Action Plan

Volunteer to become an Air Quality Champion

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Recent comments

The reason parents sit in their cars outside or near schools with engines running is to avoid paying parking fees. Every time I walk down Vicarage Crescent in Battersea I pass vehicles with driver in - and engines running. Although recently I've seen empty vehicles, with hazard lights on - and engines running. But whilst council are so keen to blame the motorists for pollution - how about the none stop flights going over Central London - and helicopters using Battersea Heliport - they create a lot of pollution. I've noticed in Chelsea signs attached to lamposts - asking vehicles/drivers not to sit with engines idling - and a fine if caught - perhaps Wandsworth could do like wise.
Liz D

9 December 2017

Whilst I agree with the air quality teams operating outside schools, can we please have these Air quality teams seen in Falcon Grove SW11 where daily cars are parked up with engine running in the belief that in so doing, traffic wardens will not, or can not check vehicle for a valid parking permit, if this is so, then something radical needs to be seen to be done, in the interest of all members of the society.
john j

8 December 2017

At this time of the year, it's really cold sitting in a stationary car with the engine turned off.

8 December 2017