Clean air campaign urges drivers not to idle

Published: Wednesday 7th February 18

Drivers leaving their engines idling outside a Putney school have been targeted in a council anti-pollution drive.

Brandlehow children had a special assembly

Council officers and representatives from sustainability experts Green Gumption spoke to drivers outside Brandlehow School to encourage them to turn their engines off while they wait for their children.

This is the latest in a series of anti-idling events which are part of an ongoing campaign to tackle air pollution – especially near schools. It follows similar successful events in Tooting in September and Battersea in November. 

The council has also recently announced a big drop in air pollution in Putney High Street as a result of lobbying Transport for London for cleaner buses and at Nine Elms following close work with contractors to reduce pollution from construction sites.

And earlier this month council enforcement officers carried out a borough-wide crackdown on drivers who park dangerously or leave engines idling outside schools. Vehicle idling is an offence and drivers can be fined.

Air quality snakes and ladders

Wandsworth is one of 15 local authorities taking part in the Vehicle Idling Action Campaign, launched in 2016 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.

At the Brandlehow event, young people were given a special assembly to teach them about reducing pollution, and afterwards had the chance to play a giant game of air quality themed snakes and ladders in the playground.

At school pick up time, staff from the council and Green Gumption engaged with parents to encourage them to park safely and to turn off their engines while waiting or parked.

The next anti-idling event will be in March at St George’s Hospital.

The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said:  “Vehicle idling is something we are committed to tackling. There’s no need for it and it significantly contributes to air pollution. As part of our Air Quality Action Plan we will continue to work with schools and parents to raise awareness of the issues.”

Wandsworth 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

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

Please can we raise awareness about turning engines off among minicab drivers as well? Also, can we do something about drivers who block pedestrian crossings so that people with buggies and wheelchairs and reduced mobility cannot cross the road? The green man may be showing, but the crossing is blocked by a car or van. Drivers are supposed to wait BEHIND the crossing, not IN it.
Alison Price

10 February 2018

Cant't believe folks complaining it's too cold to sit in car without engine running - I read this complaint often - wimps. I keep in the boot of my car a Fleece, Quilted sleeveless jacket, thin raincoat and woolly hat - (mostly for Burntwood Golf course - which seems yo be the coldest place on earth) - why can't folk who think they are going to be sitting in their cars for a long time engage brain do likewise.
Liz D

10 February 2018

Just walk down Vicarage Crescent - along Battersea High Street, Shuttleworth Road and any of the side roads and you'll see cars/vans/lorries with drivers inside and engines idling. I often walk down to Clapham Junction & back and find the same cars/vans/lorries in the same place with engine still idling. Should start taking photos of them - but am usually in a hurry.

10 February 2018

It's can be really cold sitting in a car with the engine turned off. Perhaps we all need to carry a rug in the car.

9 February 2018

Good that the Putney school drivers have been reminded not to run engines outside the school Would you remind the drivers outside Garratt Park school......yet again...please
Ann Johnston

9 February 2018

Delighted that pressure from Cllr. Dikerdem and others is pushing the Council to finally do something. But we still need enforcement. Again, how many notices has the Council handed out. Would it not be a good idea to leaflet all households and businesses with the rulings. The rather small notices are obviously not working.
susan lofthouse

9 February 2018

May we know how many tickets you have handed out so far to people infringing this rule? And may we know whether you have advised your own staff of the situation. Two weeks ago a Council minibus was seen idling at a bus stop in Battersea Park Road.
Susan Lofthouse

7 February 2018