Idling drivers could now be fined £1,000 for pausing too long in one spot.

Under new legislation adopted by Epping Forest District Council, it is now an offence to withhold information or fail to switch off your engine if requested by an authorized officer.

Those who linger, particularly outside schools, could be taken to court, convicted and fined up to £1,000.

Alternatively, an on the spot fixed penalty notice of £20 can be issued by authorised officers.

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Nigel Avey, said: “Turning off your engine when stationary is just one of the small changes that can be made to help improve poor air quality.

"Thursday 21 June sees the return of Global Action Plan’s 'Clean Air Day' which the council is supporting to help increase awareness and reduce air pollution.

“We have provided local schools with toolkits and promotional materials to help them plan their own Clean Air Day events and on the day Enforcement Officers will be in place at some school gates, to help educate those who still have their engines running while waiting for their children.”

Leaving engines running while stationary has been shown to be as a significant source of air pollution, particularly in areas with large numbers of idling vehicles such as schools and hospitals.

Health issues linked with poor air pollution include asthma, premature births, lung cancer and possibly even dementia.

In another bid to cut down on air pollution, the council has urged residents to walk or take public transport instead of driving, car share or buy an electric of hybrid vehicle.