Council clamps down on Drivers – while ignoring its Polluting Airport  

This week there was a big announcement from Luton Borough Council regarding idling engines.  As expected, the Council is happy to ignore idling aircraft engines that cause high emissions at its airport while clamping down on residents. 

As the photographs show, Luton has a major problem with idling aircraft engines.  This will only get worse under Council plans to expand the airport using its existing single runway, with aircraft running engines for up to 30 minutes before take-off.  This causes the smell of kerosene, as well as pollution, to drift over large areas of the town.

We note the hypocritical comments below from Cllr Rob Roche.  Can we suggest the Council declares the airport an Air Quality Management Area?

“The adoption of these powers would allow for the Council to monitor and issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for £20 where a motorist fails to switch off their engine when stationary which increases to £40 if not paid or challenged within 28 days.

The Council has declared three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Luton due to excesses in the annual mean air quality objective level for nitrogen dioxide.  As part of the town centre AQMA the aim is to raise awareness of vehicle idling with an emphasis on licensed vehicles and buses. The Airport Air Quality Impact Task and Finish Group also calls for work to be undertaken with local schools to address the issue of engine idling.

The fines would be issued as a last resort and only where drivers do not voluntarily switch off their engine and would not be enforced in instances such as when a vehicle is stationary due to traffic, where running to trace a vehicle defect or on a cold day at a taxi rank.  They would also not be issued if the driver is elderly and running the engine to keep warm, or to help defrost a windscreen in very cold weather.

Cllr Rob Roche portfolio holder responsible for Sustainable Development and Highways said, “It’s vital that we do all we can to ensure the air we breathe in Luton is clean and introducing these powers is an important step. This fits in with the wider approach to climate change and is a way everybody can contribute positively – by turning their engine off whenever possible.

“But we will take a common-sense approach to enforcement and it’s hoped that engagement, awareness and education will help prevent drivers who tend to leave their engines running from doing so. However, I am pleased that councillors have agreed that we can undertake monitoring and enforcement if they don’t switch off.

Engagement and an awareness raising campaign will now begin to understand local resident’s thoughts on these powers.”

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