Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Writing, the environment, and story inspiration!

I wrote this RANT for The Oldie, who duly ignored it, so I thought I'd post it on here! I work from home and can concentrate better in a quiet environment. Next door, 70 flats are going up. It's been like working in an earthquake zone for 18 months, with all the noise and vibrations. But on the upside, my noisy, polluting builder buddies have been the subject of a couple of features I've sold to magazines! I'm sure they'd be delighted if they knew. Here's the RANT!

The builders idle outside my house, pumping fumes from their stationary vans, polluting the air, creating noise and a nuisance. It irritates me, so I ask them to stop and they look at me, like I'm mad. I explain that unnecessary stationary idling is illegal, that we have a pollution problem in the UK, and they should turn their engines off when stationary. They're standing on the pavement with the doors wide open. It's not like it's even keeping the van warm!

They're part of the Considerate Constructors scheme, so they apologise, turn their engines off, and all is well... until it happens again later, or the next day. Some sit there for half an hour or more pumping fumes unless I intervene.

This building work will take 18 months and they're already clogging up our road with their vehicles. So I now have a sign outside my house, provided by the site manager, asking the builders to turn their engines off when stationary. Some idle in front of the sign until I go outside and ask them not to. One repeat offender has vanished altogether since the site manager 'had a chat' with him, and promised me it wouldn't happen again.

But the thing is, it's not just the builders. I walk into our little town, and all along the high street people are idling in their cars - young and old alike. No-one seems to care about pollution or the environment. I've asked a few people to turn off. My husband thinks one day I'll get beaten up. But all this idling, all this pointless pollution, is really irritating me. Does no-one care about our health, or the planet?

Some of the London Borough councils now hold anti-idling days. They enforce the law and issue £20 fines to anyone who refuses to turn their engine off when stationary. It's progress, but it's not solving the problem across the country.

Leaving your car idling for more than about 30 seconds uses more fuel than switching off. It's in breach of road traffic regulations (see Highway Code section 123) and it can incur a £20 fine. Some Boroughs say you can keep the car warm by cutting the engine and leaving the fan on. There is no excuse. I'm glad some councils are now taking enforcement action, but sadly, they're not in my area.

We know air pollution is bad for our health; we know it's bad for the environment. We know it contributes to thousands of premature deaths every year. So why idle? Just turn off! If you're an idler, save yourself a few quid in fuel too. Let's all be responsible and stop the pointless pollution.

I sold two articles about the idling issue, with the builders playing the starring role. Is someone irritating you? Perhaps they could be the source of a short story or article!


  1. I don't think I leave it running that often. Good to know 30 seconds is the cutoff. I probably don't wait at lights that long so it really is worst while waiting for something. I'm visiting from the #goinggreen linkup!

  2. Grrrr - I am totally with you on this one. I am the only Mum who turns off my engine when I am waiting at the bus stop in the morning and the sound of an idling engine drives me demented ... and that is before I even start to think about the unnecessary pollution it is causing. Thank you so much for linking this important topic to my #GoingGreenLinky and maybe if more councils started fining people more people would stop.