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Pupils are persuading drivers not to leave their engines running while parked.

New campaign to tackle air pollution launches

School children, businesses and local communities are leading a new campaign to help improve air quality in the county.

Encouraging employees to use more sustainable travel to and from work and travel plans for pupils and parents to encourage greener travel are amongst the activities to help raise awareness of improving air quality.

So far, 15 schools, 6,500 pupils and 1,000 parents in priority areas are already involved in the process learning about the issues and working to reduce car journeys to school, as well as persuading drivers not to leave their engines running while parked.

Local businesses, including Holland and Barrett are also joining the campaign by encouraging employees to use greener modes of travel or things like sharing lifts to help reduce the number of journeys made.

The campaign will be launched on Thursday 20 June, as part of Clean Air Day.

Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said:

“We know that air pollution, especially from vehicles on some of our most congested main roads can cause many health issues and it’s important we do what we can to improve air quality for everyone.

“Our Air Aware Staffordshire campaign is really simple and will help to raise everyone’s awareness of the small, easy things we can all do to reduce air pollution and help us all breathe easier.

“Air pollution is a problem for everyone in our society but by working together we can make a real difference. For example, by walking or cycling to work and school, we can improve our health through exercise, limit air pollution and lower greenhouse gases. And by getting employees to consider more active travel options or even sharing a lift with a colleague will also help make a real difference.

“Furthermore, the majority of car journeys in Staffordshire are less than 5 miles which can show people how easy it could be to reduce their car travel.”

Councillor John Preece, Environment Leader for Cannock Chase District Council said:

“Exposure to air pollution is costing lives and damaging the health of others, with children and older people particularly susceptible.

“We want to improve air quality in our district and are working closely with the County Council to achieve this. Air pollution is on the rise with vehicle emissions being the main contributor.

“This campaign will raise awareness of air quality matters as well as encouraging people to take responsibility and make one small change. This could involve travelling differently to school once a week or turning off your engine when stationary.

“By reducing harmful air pollution together, we could make a huge difference to the quality of air we breathe in as well as improving our long-term health and wellbeing”.

Pupils at Heath Hayes Primary Academy have been encouraging parents to use less polluting and more sustainable travel options such as walking, cycling or scootering and talking to drivers about the risks of poor air quality around the school.

Amy Fidler, 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.

“Pupils have been working hard to raise awareness of the health risks of air pollution and have been talking to parents and encouraging drivers to turn their engines off when parked up near the school.

“Improving air quality outside the school is my priority and the more we can make people aware of it the better.”

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. The campaign will run until the summer of 2020.

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