Published: 14:14, 05 August 2020
| Updated: 15:02, 05 August 2020
Drivers who refuse to turn off their vehicles while not using them could receive a fine, as new powers have been approved.
Swale council gave the green light to give any driver a £20 Fixed Penalty Notice if they do not turn off their engine while it's not in use.
Anti-idling regulations came into effect in 2002 and apply to all cars, taxis, buses and commercial vehicles.
Research shows leaving your engine on while not using a vehicle can pump out up to 20 times more of some pollutants than travelling at 32mph.
Swale council cabinet member for environment, Cllr Tim Valentine (Green), said: "These new powers will become part of our Air Quality Action Plan to protect residents against further pollution.
"By enforcing this legislation, we hope to raise public awareness about the damage that can be caused to people's health by leaving your car idling unnecessarily.
"We'll focus on educating drivers to help provide cleaner air across the borough, particularly for residents who live in Air Quality Management Areas and children going to and from school every day."
Air Quality Management Areas are places where the council has recognised levels of pollutants are higher than safe limits allow.
There are currently five areas being monitored in the borough - Newington, Keycol Hill, St Pauls Street in Milton, London Road in Teynham and Ospringe.
"We don't want to issue Fixed Penalty Notices, and it will be a last resort, but we do want to enforce the anti-idling regulations more effectively to improve air quality," Cllr Valentine added.
"We've seen a huge improvement in air quality this year as people stayed at home during the pandemic and those improvements have continued as people use alternative modes of transport.
"We do want to enforce the anti-idling regulations more effectively to improve air quality..."
"We want to encourage people to continue the good work and walk, cycle and use public transport wherever possible to help us provide cleaner air for the borough."
Studies have shown every minute a car idles, it produces enough emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful pollutants.
These can then cause asthma and worsen chronic illnesses such as lung cancer and emphysema, as well as being particularly damaging for children.
Cllr Valentine added: "Leaving your car idling for just 10 minutes every time you do the school run creates 1,520m3 of excess pollutant fumes every year, which is enough to fill two jumbo jets."
Visit www.swale.gov.uk/air-quality for more information about improving air quality.