Edinburgh school threatens to fine parents for idling car engines

Warning notices have been put up by the school as it tries to deal with the pollution problem of parents leaving car engines running outside the gates
Warning notices have been put up by the school as it tries to deal with the pollution problem of parents leaving car engines running outside the gates
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BRIGHT signs have been put up, warning parents they face on-the-spot fines if they keep their engine running at the school gate.

But at James Gillespie’s Primary School yesterday afternoon, some cars still chose to ignore the warnings, despite health concerns for children.

Environmental wardens have been called in to patrol the school at drop off and pick up times after complaints from children and parents.

The crackdown comes after drivers ignored the warning signs erected by the school.

Prominently displayed outside the school entrance and the car park on Whitehouse Loan, the bright yellow signs request that engines are turned off while waiting or drivers could be subject to a £20 fine.

After fielding complaints, the school issued a reminder to parents in a newsletter, pointing out the health implications of exposure to toxic fumes.

One parent told the Evening News: “I think it is a really good idea, they needed to do something. It’s unfair that children are being exposed to toxic car fumes when they are going to school in the morning. I am glad the school are stepping in.”

Another added: “I don’t bring the car to school any more but when I did I always turned the engine off. I see people doing it most days now even though the school put up the signs and notified parents in a newsletter.”

There were two cars spotted idling directly outside the entrance to the school on yesterday afternoon, but the drivers chose not to comment.

Keeping a car engine idling can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as a moving vehicle. Toxic air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide are linked to health issues including breathing difficulties, heart disease and cancer.

A Friends of the Earth report published in January 2017 showed that Scotland’s most polluted streets often breached the European limit for nitrogen dioxide exposure.

Edinburgh’s St John’s Road was the second most polluted street in the country, with Queensferry Road the second most polluted in the Capital.

The environmental campaigning organisation estimated that there could be more than 3500 early deaths connected to air pollution in Scotland every year.

Davidson’s Mains Primary School in Edinburgh has already taken action.

In October last year, after receiving complaints about coaches leaving their engines running outside the gates, environmental wardens monitored the area during peak times and put up signs, though no penalties were issued.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, warned parents yesterday that environmental wardens have the power to fine parents who ignore requests from the council to turn off their engines.

She said: “Engine idling is a serious concern and it’s one of many contributors to health-threatening air pollution. All drivers who are parked up or stationary for long periods of time should switch their engines off to help improve Edinburgh’s air quality.

“Environmental wardens have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone who fails to comply with a request to turn off their engine.”