New Suffolk campaign urges drivers to switch their engines off

A new campaign urging Suffolk’s drivers to switch off their engines when parked has launched this March

Suffolk County Council has joined forces with schools across the county to raise awareness of engine idling.

The campaign against idling is being supported by Suffolk's local authorities, including:

  • Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils
  • East Suffolk Council
  • Ipswich Borough Council
  • West Suffolk Council

It particularly focuses on turning off engines outside schools to protect children’s growing lungs from unnecessary pollution.

Idling engines, where a car is stationery with its engine on, cause peaks in harmful pollutants.

When when breathed in overtime, these can lead to:

  • asthma
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • stunted growth for children’s developing lungs

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution because their height puts them closer to exhaust fumes.

They also breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants, and their developing organs are more easily damaged.

Children living in highly polluted areas are four times more likely to have reduced lung function in adulthood.

Improving air quality for children has been shown to halt and reverse this effect.

A study published in January 2024, found that hospital admissions among children were "significantly associated" with exposure to higher levels of air pollution.

The data was from a two-week period, and found that only around half of them would have needed hospital care if pollution had been within legal limits.

Research shows that idling engines produce up to twice the amount of exhaust emissions compared to when a vehicle is moving.

In a survey carried out in Suffolk at the end of 2022, 35% of respondents said they never switch their engine off when parked or stationery.

Councillor Paul West, cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said:

“The evidence is there, pollution is damaging our health and damaging the environment.

"Switching our engines off when parked is a simple action we can all take and it’s been proven to make a huge difference to air quality, particularly outside schools.

"This campaign is just one of the actions Suffolk County Council and its partners are taking, through our joint air quality strategy work, to improve air quality in the county for residents and visitors alike.”

Visit the Healthy Suffolk website for more information about air quality

Schools can request materials to promote the campaign by emailing Suffolk County Council's air quality team

School pupils show support for Suffolk anti-idling campaign