The leader of Westminster City Council has pleaded for the UK government to allow local authorities to impose on-the-spot “four-figure fines” for fleet drivers that park up with their engines running.

The government is weighing up proposals to give local councils the right to fine company vehicle drivers that let their engines idle while stationary, without the need for an initial warning.

Presently, local councils must provide an initial warning and drivers must be stationary for longer than a minute with their engine still running. The fine is also a mere £20 or £80, depending on the severity with which each local authority wishes to enforce the law.

Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council, admitted: “Fines are our last resort but when we establish a pattern of persistent idling, we need to be able to send a message.”

Mrs Aiken believes that company vehicle drivers caught idling needed to be fines a “four-figure sum to be a sufficient deterrent”.

In 2018, Westminster City Council issued 20 penalty fines for persistent idling. Meanwhile nearby Camden Council did not fine anyone but provided 400 initial warnings to drivers. Camden Council is also keen to be given the authority to issue instant fines.

In total, 18 local councils across London alone have noted “idling action events”, kindly asking drivers to switch off their engines when stationary. According to Islington Council, four-fifths (80%) of drivers requested turned off their engines in an amenable manner.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove agrees with giving local councils the right to fine drivers without warning; particularly repeat offenders that continue to disrespect long-term plans to de-congest and de-pollute urban areas nationwide.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are determined to reduce the damaging environmental impacts of drivers who keep their engines running while stationary, especially those in school zones.

“This is why we are making guidance for local authorities clearer, so that they know how and when to target drivers falling foul of the law.

“We will also be polling local authorities to understand how any potential review of these powers may look in future.”

Paul Loughlin, motoring law solicitor, Stephensons Solicitors LLP, believes that the government needs to “make it clear” for drivers to “turn off their engines while parked” and communicate the benefits of doing so.

Mr Loughlin added: “The fines, some which stretching to £1,000 for repeat offenders, will be keenly felt in particular by businesses and couriers, who often leave their vehicles running while making deliveries.”