Labour councillors refuse to put brakes on air pollution caused by idling

Labour councillors have refused to back a Green Party motion brought to Full Council calling for an anti-idling campaign for Exeter [1]. Greens say idling vehicles increase exhaust fumes in the air and that the resulting pollution is linked to a range of health problems.

They urged Exeter City Council to adopt a range of measures to tackle air pollution including anti-idling signage in known idling hotspots, an idling reporting tool on the Council’s website for the public to identify problem areas, and collaborating with local businesses to encourage them to sign up to an ‘Engines Off’ pledge.

Green councillor and NHS consultant, Andy Ketchin, who proposed the motion, said:

“Air pollution in parts of the city regularly exceeds safe limits set by both national legislation and the World Health Organisation, and the Royal College of Physicians estimates that 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to our toxic air.

“The government’s own guidance states that poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Idling traffic is a major contributor to this, substantially increasing the amount of exhaust fumes in the air.

“Every minute, an idling car produces enough exhaust emissions to fill 150 balloons with a cocktail of harmful chemicals. These can cause a range of health problems – from heart and lung disease to strokes and cancer – and have been shown to be particularly damaging to children. Yet the RAC reports that 26% of those caught idling are spotted doing so outside schools.

“Initiatives to tackle idling already exist on NHS premises and isolated schools in Exeter, but for the sake of the health of everyone in the city, we would benefit from a consistent approach. That’s what this motion aimed to achieve.”

Green councillor Tess Read, who seconded the motion, added:

“Tackling idling is a really simple way to reduce air pollution in Exeter. The Department of Transport agrees, saying that putting a stop to idling is an easy way to drive down dangerously high levels of pollution, reducing its impact on the environment and our health.

“The Labour-run council has declared an area of the city to be an Air Quality Management Area and says it is taking steps to reduce air pollution. With that plan up for review in 2024, Labour are being idle not introducing a campaign to persuade drivers to switch off at every stop.

“Many Councils of different political persuasions have already put in place non idling measures including media campaigns, signs placed at hotspots and enforcement of fines. Labour in Exeter, with the backing of the Tories, have failed to put the brakes on air pollution or give an anti idling campaign the green light.”



[1] Agenda for Council on Tuesday 17th October 2023, 6.00 pm – Exeter City Council – see item 15

Air quality Traffic

To top