ELDERLY drivers and recovery vehicles could be exempt from proposed regulations to stop people running their engines while their cars are stationary.

Council chiefs in Darlington are considering introducing the controversial measure in an effort to cut down on pollution.

From early next year, teams of uniformed wardens could be given the power to impose £20 fixed penalty notices on motorists who refuse to turn off their engines while their vehicles are stationary.

The clampdown is likely to have its strongest impact on people waiting outside shops or collecting children from schools.

But in a report to be considered by Darlington Transport Forum next week, it is made clear that the wardens would be ordered to use a common sense approach when giving out fines and four possible exemptions are given.

These are taxi drivers and elderly or disabled people running their car engines to keep warm in winter, recovery vehicles carrying out work and people running the engine while defrosting their windscreens.

Other vehicles, such as those running refrigeration equipment, are already allowed by law to keep their engines running.

The borough council, which is working closely with police on the initiative, is expected to approve the measure in February - but officials have stressed that fines will be a last resort.