From 'walking buses' to road closures, schools across the country took action to reduce their impact on air pollution on Clean Air Day
Clean Air Day on 20 June is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. Schools, individuals and businesses are encouraged to take simple measures to reduce their own impact on air pollution, such as leaving the car behind on the school run.
A number of schools closed roads during school-run hours to reduce pollution on the day.
In Leeds, roads were closed outside 11 primary schools between 1pm and 4pm on Clean Air Day. A major part of this was to reduce traffic and engine idling at school pick-up time, but it also allowed them to promote the importance of outdoor play.
In Leicester, Brandon Street outside Catherine Junior School was closed to traffic to improve air quality ( 8am until 5pm.) This allowed the school to hold their classes outside.
In Luton, Hillborough Road closed during pick up and drop off times at Hillborough Infant and Junior schools from 10-21 June. The schools teamed up with Luton Council and Sustrans to create a traffic-free space at the school gates.
In Southwark, London, Goose Green Primary started a ‘walking bus’, a new initiative to help parents cut car journeys and help kids walk more. The first departure took place at 8.15 and saw school pupils joined by MP Helen Hayes and local councillors on their walking journey to school.
Meanwhile, Dulwich Village Primary School used Clean Air Day to celebrate the ‘opening’ of its new green screen, which was placed around the infants’ school to protect children from car fumes.
A road outside Ravensdale Primary School in Coventry closed to become a ‘school street’, which gave children the chance to walk, scoot and cycle to school.
Headteacher Rob Matthews said: “We want to promote clean air day but also to get less people driving to school.
“The biggest issue we have is inconsiderate parking, so it is mainly trying to make sure we raise awareness of road safety across schools.
“The children have really loved it and they enjoy being able to ride and be safe in front of the school.”
In Plymouth, Sustrans has started the Green Gate Awards that will be used to encourage students and parents to help the environment by undertaking traffic assessments, promoting no idling zones and monitoring air quality.
The school will be given a Green Status should their results be a success in terms of cutting congestion, encouraging better-quality air and increasing the number of pupils walking to school.
Claire Harris, Sustrans’ Plymouth Active Travel Officer said: “We hope that schools take part in the Green Gate awards as Plymouth is a place that responds positively to environmental issues.
“Recent beach cleans and a will for reduced use of single use plastics are a great example of this, so I would ask them this Clean Air Day to consider other small changes, think about reducing short journeys by car, switching off engine smoke when stationary, reduce accelerating and braking, and increase walking and cycling.
“Even selecting for children to be on the inside of the pavement can help, plus rewilding our routes with trees and plants is shown to combat pollution due to congestion.”
A number of events and initiatives took place across Wales, as part of efforts to raise awareness about the causes of air pollution and actions needed to reduce personal emissions and personal exposure.
Caerphilly County Borough Council organised a five-day event at Caerphilly Castle celebrating and promoting the day, with schools nearby using a walking bus to attend and those based further away using an electric bus.
The event aimed to raise awareness of Clean Air Day and encourage everyone to make changes in their day to day life to help reduce air pollutants and improve air quality.
As well as the Caerphilly event, a number of initiatives and events were run across Wales to mark Clean Air Day. The Welsh Government provided support through providing a range of bilingual resources for schools, businesses, communities and the health sector. This included Clean Air Day leaflets, stickers and flashing LED shoe clips which promote road safety when walking or cycling for all of the children attending the Caerphilly Castle event.