Drivers who leave their vehicle engines running could face tougher penalties under new proposals announced by the government.
Vehicle idling is a major factor in poor air quality, particularly in areas where there is a large number of vehicles waiting, such as outside schools, taxi ranks and bus stations.
Every minute, an idling car produces enough emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful chemicals, including cyanide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter (PM2.5), which can result in a range of health problems, such as heart and lung disease.
Air pollution is considered the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.
Councils currently have the power to fine drivers but the government seeks to toughen up the powers and reduce air pollution while providing guidance on their anti-idling powers and enabling them to enforce the law “more effectively”.
The Department for Transport expects to launch a consultation this summer with more details on the proposals, which will also explore how to deal with repeat offenders who keep their engines running following several warnings.
Mr Grayling said: “We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running, particularly outside school gates where our children are breathing in this toxic air.
“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.”