Travel plans for pupils and work with employers to encourage greener travel, e-scooter trials and green living walls are amongst the initiatives helping improve air quality in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire County Council has been reminding residents that by working together and by making small changes Staffordshire can be greener, air quality will improve and reduce the impact on the environment.
Working with the authority’s School Travel Team, over 2000 pupils from 15 schools are learning about what can be done to improve air quality. Reducing car journeys to school, encouraging more walking, cycling or scootering, as well as persuading drivers not to leave their engines running when parked up are amongst the activities.
Hundreds of employers have already signed up to a scheme to improve air quality. An exciting SIMULATE Live Labs project, being funded by the Department for Transport, is also exploring projects, including the installation of living walls to help reduce pollution and looking at the future demand for electric car charging points. Additionally, E-scooter trials are taking place in Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme, with riders being allowed to legally ride on the roads when using the official scooters.
The county council is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
David Williams, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said: “Air pollution is a problem for everyone and can cause many health issues but by working together, we can make a real difference. Most air pollution comes from vehicles on our most congested main roads and outside schools, which is why we are focusing on working with schools in the worst affected areas to educate parents and help them choose a more sustainable and less polluting mode of transport.
“Through our Air Aware campaign that we launched in 2019, we’ve been raising awareness and encouraging people to take responsibility and make one small change. This could involve travelling differently to school once a week or turning off the car engine when stationary. By walking or cycling to work and school, we can not only improve our health through exercise, but can limit air pollution all at the same time.
“Small actions, when they come together, make a big difference. If we all do our bit to make Staffordshire sustainable, we will breathe cleaner air, create greener communities and make Staffordshire a healthier place to live and work.”
Schools taking part in the Air Aware campaign include:
Christchurch Primary, Burton
Horninglow Primary, Burton
Heath Hayes Academy, Cannock
Five Ways Primary, Cannock
Gorsemoor Primary Cannock
St Thomas CoE Primary, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Hassell Community Primary, Newcastle-under-Lyme
St Margaret’s Junior, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Ellison Primary, Newcastle-under-Lyme
St Wulstan’s CP, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Westwood First, Leek
St Edward’s Middle, Leek
Beresford Memorial CoE First School, Leek
Churnet View Middle, Leek
All Saints First, Leek
Pupils at Christchurch Primary in Burton are also supporting Clean Air Day and raising awareness of the risks of air pollution. Armed with banners and megaphones, they have been encouraging parents to use less polluting and more sustainable travel, such as walking, cycling and scootering.
Backed up by the county council’s School Travel Team, the children also spoke to drivers about switching off their engines when parked up outside the school.
During a day of lessons about the environment and reducing pollution, the pupils also took a short walking trip to one of the Green Living Wall experiments at Shobnal roundabout, installed as part of the live labs project. Here they received a talk on how the wall works to reduce pollution, in preparation for making their own wall at the school later in the year.
Mr Lee Archer, Deputy Headteacher at the school, said: “We are really pleased to be involved in the campaign and the children are really determined to make a difference. Improving air quality outside the school is one of our top priorities and the more we can make people aware of it the better. We’ve been working closely with the county council’s School Travel Team and the children have been doing a great job to raise awareness amongst parents. They have also been talking to parents and encouraging drivers to turn their engines off when parked up near the school.”
It is estimated that around 390 deaths per year are attributable to poor air quality in Staffordshire every year.
Staffordshire County Council is one of 16 nationally to receive funding from the Government for improvement work and is working with its districts and boroughs, as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Highways England.
People can find out more about the small actions they can take to help them travel differently one day a week at http://airaware.doingourbit.info