LOCAL AUTHORITY POWERS TO REQUIRE DRIVERS TO SWITCH OFF ENGINES WHEN PARKED Guidance Issued Under Section 88 of the Environment Act 1995
PART ONE - THE SCHEME
PURPOSE OF THE SCHEME
1.1 The purpose of the scheme is to provide local authorities with an additional tool for managing air quality in their areas. Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 1, as amended, already makes it an offence to leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is parked. Under this scheme local authorities will be able to instruct motorists to switch off their engines while their vehicles are parked and to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to those who refuse to co-operate.
1.2 It is not the intention to target motorists who leave engines running when parked for no more than a few seconds; rather, action will be targeted towards more serious offenders (e.g. coaches which park in busy town centres with their engines running). The scheme is designed to encourage all motorists to have due regard to the local environment when parking. Good public relations and effective publicity will be vitally important to ensure that the scheme is understood, accepted and supported by the majority of motorists.
1.3 Emissions from stationary vehicles are only a small contributor to overall levels of air pollution, but they can cause discomfort to people in the immediate vicinity, particularly where they occur in sensitive areas (e.g. outside schools). High levels of localised pollution can also trigger the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory diseases in vulnerable people.
1.4 These powers are available to all local authorities in Scotland. However, action should be purely advisory in the vast majority of cases. Very few Fixed Penalty Notices should need to be issued - their effect is that of a deterrent.
LEGAL BASIS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY ENFORCEMENT OF STATIONARY VEHICLES WITH AN ENGINE RUNNING UNNECESSARILY
1.5 The Environment Act 1995 ('the 1995 Act') requires the UK Government and the devolved administrations to publish an Air Quality Strategy setting out air quality standards and objectives for particular pollutants, and measures for achieving the objectives at national and local level. Part IV of the 1995 Act requires local authorities to review and assess air quality in their areas and to take action to improve any areas of poor air quality. Section 87 of the 1995 Act empowers the Scottish Ministers to make Regulations conferring powers on local authorities for, or in connection with, implementing the Air Quality Strategy.
1.6 The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Regulations 2003 ('the Regulations') enable local authorities in Scotland to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to drivers who allow their vehicle engines to run unnecessarily while the vehicle is parked. The Regulations include provisions which specify the format and amount of the Fixed Penalty Notice (20.00); the enforcement open to local authorities; and, the appeal rights of the individual issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.
PURPOSE OF THE GUIDANCE
1.7 This Guidance has been issued by the Scottish Ministers under section 88 of the 1995 Act. Consequently, nothing in this Guidance shall negate any Fixed Penalty Notices issued under the Regulations. The Guidance constitutes the day to day instructions to which local authority personnel should have regard in exercising their function to limit unnecessary vehicle emissions.
USE OF CONTRACTORS
1.8 If the local authority opts to contract to a third party the function of vehicle emissions enforcement, the contracted party should also have regard to the procedures within this Guidance which fall within the contract, including the methods of carrying out enforcement and the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices.
INCOME FROM FIXED PENALTIES
1.9 Local authorities are permitted to retain income generated from Fixed Penalties Notices issued under this Guidance for further emissions enforcement work.
2. AUTHORISED PERSONS
PERSONNEL CONDUCTING ENFORCEMENT OF STATIONARY VEHICLES WITH AN ENGINE RUNNING UNNECESSARILY
2.1 Each local authority will be able to appoint authorised persons with the authority to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to offending drivers. High standards of professionalism and quality are expected from personnel engaged in this work.
2.2 Specific duties and job descriptions should be prepared by individual local authorities. However, these will generally include the following:
Carrying out enforcement work detailed in this Guidance;
Offering advice to vehicle users, particularly those in breach of the Regulations;
Issuing Fixed Penalty Notices to vehicle users (in practice, drivers) where vehicles are found to be in contravention of legislation and a request to comply is refused;
Liaising with office staff engaged in follow-up enforcement procedures;
Liaising with police officers, highway authorities and other agencies as necessary; and
Complying with the employing authority's health and safety policy and with the provisions of this Guidance.
Local authorities should retain some proof of an individual's authorisation which may be needed in the event of a dispute.
TRAINING & COMPETENCE
2.3 There is no minimum academic standard to undertake this work, nor specialised training. In addition to normal on-the-job training, local authorities should ensure that all personnel are fully conversant with and follow the provisions of this Guidance at all times when carrying out enforcement work.
MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION
2.4 Direct supervision should not be necessary.
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, UNIFORM & ID
2.5 All external clothing (jackets, waistcoats and overalls) should be clearly marked with the name of the employing authority. Personnel should wear personal identity badges in a prominent position on their external clothing. This should include the local authority's name and the person's identification code. Staff should also carry their local authority authorisation to issue Fixed Penalty Notices. The employing local authority should issue a badge and authorisation to each person for the purposes of this paragraph. That person is responsible for keeping these safe. Staff should also have access to a communication network (e.g. a mobile phone or radio) to summon assistance if required.
PUBLICISING THE SCHEME
3.1 Maximum publicity must be given to the need to switch off engines when a vehicle is parked and to the fact that Fixed Penalty Notices may be issued to those drivers who fail to do so.
3.2 Local authorities should consider all means of notifying the motoring public of these requirements. As a minimum, this should include publication of a notice in at least one local newspaper, one national newspaper and the Edinburgh Gazette. This notice should state that the local authority has been designated to undertake testing, describe the area covered by and the effect of the designation, and state the date on which the authority intends to start exercising the powers. The notice should be published at least four weeks prior to this date and then annually thereafter. Local authorities may also wish to consider advertisements in the local press and radio, poster campaigns, leaflets and publicity events. In particular, garages and petrol stations should be encouraged to display publicity about the scheme.
3.3 Publicity should be of a general and ongoing nature, but also targeted to specific enforcement days. Publicity should make clear:
the need to switch off engines when vehicles are parked (i.e. the need to improve local air quality for the benefit of people's health); and
the penalties for failing to do so.
3.4 Local authorities should commence their publicity campaigns well in advance of the issuing of any Fixed Penalty Notices. No motorist should be surprised to be advised to switch off the engine of a parked vehicle or be unaware why such a request is being made.
4. CARRYING OUT ENFORCEMENT
4.1 Local authorities can help to improve local air quality by encouraging motorists to switch off engines when parked for more than a few minutes. Local authorities will have the option of issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice to uncooperative motorists but, generally speaking, Fixed Penalty Notices should be issued as a last resort.
BREACHES OF THE REGULATIONS WHICH SHOULD NOT BE ENFORCED
4.2 Regulation 98(2) of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended, sets out the circumstances where vehicles are permitted to be stationary with the engine running. These circumstances are:
where a vehicle is stationary `owing to the necessities of traffic' - e.g. when vehicles are queuing at traffic lights;
where an engine is being run so that a defect can be traced and rectified - e.g. when a disabled vehicle is being attended to by a breakdown / recovery agent;
where machinery on a vehicle requires the engine to be running - e.g. where the engine powers refrigeration equipment or the compaction equipment in a refuse vehicle; and
where a vehicle is propelled by gas produced by the functioning of plant carried on the vehicle.
4.3 Common sense should be applied: it might be reasonable to leave an engine running for a short time on a hot day for an air-conditioning system to have an effect; it may not be reasonable to leave an engine running for a longer period of time to maintain a `pleasant' environment.
4.4 The driver does not have to be in the vehicle for an offence to be committed under Regulation 98. If, for example, a driver has left a vehicle with its engine running to call at a shop, he/she is committing two offences: he/she has committed an offence under Regulation 98 and an offence under Regulation 107, which makes it an offence to leave an engine running in an unattended vehicle except in certain prescribed circumstances.
WHAT ACTION TO TAKE
4.5 Personnel should consider carefully the level of enforcement action to take. There might be, for example, mitigating circumstances for leaving an engine running while the vehicle is stationary, such as:
on a cold day at a taxi rank;
if the driver is elderly to keep warm;
if the vehicle is a recovery vehicle carrying out a recovery and needing to run lights off the engine; or
to help defrost a windscreen in very cold weather.
4.6 In all cases, however, personnel who find a parked vehicle with its engine running unnecessarily should in the first instance offer the following advice and be encouraged not to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice:
an offence has been committed under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 insofar as the vehicle fails to comply with Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended;
the offence is one which local authorities have been given powers to enforce under the Regulations in an effort to address growing concerns about pollution and the environment;
the offence is an absolute one which is not dependent on knowledge by the individual committing the offence (i.e. the vehicle user);
this is a continuing offence; and
on this occasion the authority will not be taking any enforcement action although the vehicle user should be aware that if action were taken it would be in the form of a Fixed Penalty of 20.
If the vehicle user does not take due attention of the advice, the local authority official may consider issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice.
OPERATOR LICENSED VEHICLES
4.7 There may be circumstances where a local authority becomes aware of repeated offences by the users of vehicles used by a particular heavy goods vehicle or public service vehicle operator. Where there is clear evidence of repeated offences, the local authority should inform the Traffic Commissioner who would consider action relevant to the operator's Operator Licence.
THE SCHEME UNDER REVIEW
5.1 The Regulations introduce local authority emissions enforcement from 1 April 2003. The Scottish Ministers will review the experiences of the scheme on an on-going basis, but formally after 2 years. Authorities should keep a detailed record of their enforcement activity on the form at Annex 3.
5.2 The form at Annex 3 should be forwarded to the Scottish Executive to cover six month periods of enforcement (e.g. the first return should cover the period inclusive). The information should be sent ideally electronically but otherwise in paper form (together with a contact name, address and telephone number).
Email: Central Enquiries Unit firstname.lastname@example.org