I left my van's engine running when I parked and got a ticket for it. Is this fair?

I recently left the engine running when I parked my van in a private car park at Tesco to go to the cashpoint. A police officer asked if it was my vehicle. I said yes and said I was going to the cashpoint. He said, "Do what you've got to do then come and have a chat". When I spoke to him, he issued me a ticket for leaving my van running. I wrote to the ticket office and pointed out that he had encouraged me to walk away from my vehicle with the engine running, rather than ask me to turn my engine off. I also pointed out that the ticket is not filled in correctly, as it doesn't mention the car park I was parked in, just the main road junction I was near. Rule 123 of Highway Code says the vehicle must be on the public road for this offence. I have photos of the signs saying privately owned car park where I was parked. I pointed all this out in my letter but they have still issued me with a conditional offer fixed penalty of £50. I believe I have strong grounds to challenge this. Should I challenge it or just suck it up and pay the fine?

Asked on 17 November 2020 by Nik

Answered by Georgia Petrie
Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. My understanding is that this enforces the Highway Code rule that you're referencing, but it isn't very clear whether the action is an offence only if it's on a public road - though I'm inclined to say you shouldn't be charged due to being parked off the public road. Whether you challenge that is up to you. Personally, I'd probably pay it, to be honest, simply because delaying payment if you're wrong could land you with an even bigger fine. Regardless of whether or not you deserve the ticket, we advise against stationary idling. It's something that's been widely criticised by councils and the Department for Transport due to it being bad for the environment, so it's likely that tougher penalties on idling drivers will come soon enough anyway.
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