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Islington takes action on idling drivers as part of city-wide sweep

Cllr Claudia Webbe hands an anti-idling leaflet to lorry driver Adrian Fafara in Upper Street.

Cllr Claudia Webbe hands an anti-idling leaflet to lorry driver Adrian Fafara in Upper Street.

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  • Council reinforces its pioneering stance against engine idling, to help combat 9,500 early deaths in the capital

Islington’s environment and transport chief took to the streets yesterday in the fight against unnecessary air pollution caused by drivers idling their engines.

Cllr Claudia Webbe joined a team of volunteer resident ‘clean air champions’, workers and council staff at a Vehicle Idling Action event outside St Mary’s Church in Upper Street, handing out information to drivers in the area and inviting passers-by to learn about air pollution and engine idling by playing a giant air quality-themed snakes and ladders game.

Islington was the first London borough to enforce an anti-idling policy in 2014, informing and educating drivers about the advantages of switching off their engines and the effect it has on people’s health.

Idling engines can pump as many toxic fumes into the environment as a moving vehicle and wastes fuel too, but many motorists are still guilty of this bad habit.

Islington is one of 12 London boroughs to join the Vehicle Idling Action campaign in prominent positions like public squares, high streets and schools to banish this pointless pollution once and for all – through the power of play.

Cllr Webbe joined community volunteers and staff outside St Mary’s Church in Upper Street, inviting passers-by to learn about air pollution, idling and the effects these have on their health at a ‘pop-up’ stall featuring a giant, air quality-themed snakes and ladders game.

She also joined community volunteers patrolling the streets nearby and chatting to drivers who were idling engines, rewarding them with a mini version of the game if they switched off and pledged not to idle again.

Volunteers also gave people some of the eye-opening facts about air pollution, including that it causes nearly 9,500 deaths per year in the capital.

Cllr Webbe said: “Islington led the way with enforcing our anti-idling policy in 2014 and I am pleased to see other boroughs and the Mayor of London acknowledging the importance of tackling this unnecessary source of air pollution.

“The sheer number of diesel lorries, buses and other heavily-polluting vehicles using Islington’s streets means we must do all we can to minimise their impact.

“The more people we can educate about the impact that engine idling has on our health the better, and these action days are a great way to make you think – and act.

“Special thanks should go to our resident volunteers, who are already passionate about this critical issue and will help us drive this message home.”

Following the launch of the project, supported by the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund, similar monthly awareness days will be held around the borough.

The council also has a team of compliance officers who enforce the policy and can fine drivers who persist in idling their engines.

Businesses in
the borough’s Zero Emissions Network (ZEN) will also be encouraging their drivers and customers to switch off their engines when stationary.

The events are the latest in a broad range of actions and policies brought in by Islington Council to tackle air pollution.

These include higher parking permit charges for owners of more polluting diesel vehicles, offering businesses grants to encourage greener commuting for their workers, holding attitude-changing activities as part of World Car Free Day, leading the way to become the first 20mph borough, improving Islington’s cycling network and encouraging families to walk to school, publishing a four-year Air Quality Strategy and supporting London-wide initiatives such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for environment, said: “Toxic air in London is a health emergency that requires bold action and the Mayor and I are determined to help every Londoner breathe cleaner air.

“I am proud to support this city-wide initiative to stamp out engine idling on London’s streets. It’s really impressive that local residents and workers are taking positive action themselves to help clean up the capital’s polluted air.”

Graham Daly, TfL’s head of operations in the enforcement and on-street directorate, said: “Not only is TfL investing in these Vehicle Idling Action days through the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, we are putting bodies on the street to help out.

"Our roads and transport enforcement officers have been out and about working with enthusiastic volunteers to help educate drivers of the dangers leaving their engines on when stationary in traffic.

"It is pleasing to see that once motorists were spoken to, they were more than happy to play their part in cleaning up the capital’s toxic air.”

Idling Action events will be running every month in Islington. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and helping to improve your local air quality, you can find out more at: or emailing

For more information contact:

Stephen Moore
Senior Media Officer
020 7527 3224

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Volunteer Lawrencia Frempong, left, holds an air pollution monitor with volunteer Tiia Haataja, centre, and Cllr Claudia Webbe on the air pollution-themed snakes and ladders game.

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