Drivers who are caught idling and refuse to turn off their engines when asked will be fined £40.

The fines will come into effect on March 1, as part of Richmond Council's campaign to make the borough idle-free.

The council is asking drivers to help by turning off their cars when stopped, especially at level crossings, outside schools, and in town centres.

According to the Royal College of Physicians, car idling produces up to 150 balloons of harmful exhaust emissions per minute, wastes half a gallon of petrol an hour, and is a major contributor to the 40,000 deaths a year linked to air pollution.

Councillors, children from Thomson House and Deer Park Schools, volunteers and guests gathered this week at Mortlake level crossing and in Richmond to launch the Council’s campaign to make Richmond an idle-free borough. 

Drivers stopped at the Mortlake level crossing were greeted by the borough’s very own anti-idling mime artist asking them to turn off their engines and handing out cards informing people about the borough’s anti-idling efforts.

Meanwhile Richmond Station’s forecourt was awash with black balloons as volunteers spoke to commuters and pedestrians about the importance of anti-idling efforts.

Cllr Alexander Ehmann, Cabinet Member for Transport, Streetscene and Air Quality said: “It’s our ambition to make this borough a leader in the crucial fight to improve air quality in London.

"That’s why we have been out asking drivers to join our efforts to make Richmond upon Thames an ‘Idle free borough’ in 2019 and beyond.

“One of the biggest contributors to poor air quality is the harmful emissions produced by drivers leaving their engines running whilst stopped for lengthy periods.

"From March, Richmond Council will be giving parking enforcement officers the powers to fine those who refuse to turn off their engines when asked.

“There is simply no reason for anyone to be idling their engine - whether stopped at level crossings, making deliveries or on the school run – the costs to everyone’s health is serious and avoidable.”