DRIVERS who leave their engines running for long spells will now be hit with fines following complaints from the public.

Inverclyde Council is to impose fixed penalty notices in a bid to cut out engine idling, after problems arose in the area and in particular outside schools.

Buses, taxis and parents waiting in cars to collect children are being warned that they could be forced to stump up £20 under the Vehicle Emissions Act.

Council officials hope that the warning will be enough to encourage drivers to turn their ignitions off.

Gourock councillor Lynne Quinn said: "I have had a few complaints about buses idling at schools.

"I wonder if there is any way we can include this in their school contract, that they have to switch their engines off?

"Parents also park near the school and leave their cars running."

The head of environmental and public protection Martin McNab asked councillors to support the introduction of fixed penalties.

He said: "We are looking at parked buses and taxis who are running their engines for long periods of times at bus stations and taxi ranks.

"Historically there hasn't been a problem but in the last six months there have been a number of complaints."

Councillor Chris McEleny questioned how the rules would work in practice and was told fixed penalties would be imposed by the parking attendants.

But Mr McNab added: "Fixed penalties will not be our first point of call.

"We hope this will act as warning.

The council will have to apply to the Scottish Government to allow them to take action against vehicle emissions.

Inverclyde Council has to adopt the legislation and become a designated local authority under the regulations, introduced in the Scottish Parliament back in 2003.