Drivers that leave their vehicle engines running while parked could face tougher penalties under new Government proposals to further improve air quality.

Councils already have the power to fine drivers, but the Department for Transport is looking at toughening up those powers to try and put a stop to unnecessary air pollution.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling intends to launch a public consultation later this summer, looking at increasing fines for idling drivers. According to some reports drivers could be fined up to £1,000, but the Government has yet to announce fine levels, which are likely to be revealed in the forthcoming consultation document.

Local authorities have the power to issue £20 fixed penalties for emission offences and stationary idling under The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002. Under other legislation a fine of £80 can be imposed if a driver ignores a warning and continues to idle for at least a minute.

Vehicle idling is a major factor in poor air quality, particularly in areas with large numbers of waiting vehicles – such as outside schools, at taxi ranks and bus stations.

Mr Grayling said: “We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running. 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.”