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Opinion : Will you be switching your car engine off in High Wycombe town centre?

| January 10, 2020

The Air Quality Management Area sign on Amersham Hill, High Wycombe.

Have you seen the new Air Quality Management Area signs that have sprung up in High Wycombe?

The signs urge motorists to turn off their car engines when stationary to help reduce pollution and improve air quality.

Apparently there are ten of these signs in the Wycombe District at the following locations :

High Wycombe

  • Amersham Hill on the down carriageway just before the Totteridge Road junction.
  • Hughenden Road near the Bellfield Road roundabout.
  • London Road between Knaves Hollow and White Hill.
  • London Road near Harlow Road.
  • Marlow Hill opposite the Park & Ride.
  • West Wycombe Road near the pedestal roundabout.
  • West Wycombe Road opposite the junction with Victoria Street.


  • High Street next to Higginson Park.
  • Little Marlow Road by Foxes Piece.
  • West Street on the corner with Spinfield Lane.

In some areas of the country drivers can be issued with fines for not switching off. However rule 123 of the Highway Code (The Driver and the Environment) states that : ‘…. it is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic….‘ so enforcement action is not really possible indeed the signs in High Wycombe do not mention any penalty for non-compliance.

In my opinion these signs are a complete waste of time. Rather than having cars stationary in traffic surely it would be better for them to nip though town at a reasonable speed to help reduce pollution?

Many parts of Wycombe have been ‘Masterplanned’ with a road layout that makes traffic flow ‘slow and steady’. Does slow moving traffic not make more pollution as vehicles are being driven in a lower gear and hence a proportionally higher engine speed to maintain the ‘slow’ speeds?

If the great and good were serious about reducing pollution surely the Masterplan roads should be ripped up and replaced with normal roads where traffic can flow quickly with the vehicles moving in higher gears and the engines just ticking along slowly?

Are the new signs merely window dressing aimed at making the motorist feel bad while the layout of the road infrastructure in the town is contradictory?


The Air Quality Management Area sign on Amersham Hill, High Wycombe.

So will my good self be switching my engine off when stationary in the town centre?

Well, my everyday car is powered by a huge supercharged V8 racing engine, indeed it’s so powerful that should too much throttle be used when moving off there is a danger of the tyres damaging the road surface.

The most polluting cars are classed as those which emit more than 200g/km of CO2. However the CO2 output of my motor is knocking on the door of 400g/km….

Incidentally while researching this blog yours truly discovered the ‘Next Green Car‘ (or NGC) emission classification which gives each vehicle a rating from 0 to 100 based on the amount of pollution produced with zero being a green vehicle and 100 being the most polluting.

The NGC rating for my everyday vehicle is around the 100 mark making it one of the most polluting ever produced.

Like most sensible drivers in High Wycombe, my good self avoids the town centre ‘Masterplan’ roads so hopefully yours truly won’t be getting stuck in stationary traffic anyway.

If the world is worried about pollution how come the most polluting vehicles, like mine, were allowed to be made in the first place?

Will you be switching your car engine off in the town centre?

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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