Drivers who leave their engines running while parked could soon face tougher penalties.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he intended to launch a public consultation, looking at increasing fines for idling drivers. 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.

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.

“We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running, particularly outside school gates, Chris Grayling said.

The plans – which would represent the biggest change to the rules since 2002 – will provide guidance to local authorities on their anti-idling powers as well, enabling them to enforce the law more effectively.

The consultation, expected to launch this summer, will also explore how to deal with repeat offenders who keep their engines running following several warnings.

"We’re expecting to see a big increase in breakdowns over the next few weeks as drivers set out on longer journeys during the summer. So, we’re urging drivers to remember the basics of motorway driving, including carrying out simple vehicle checks before setting off, to help keep us all moving.”