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Pupils of Heath Hayes Academy helping to tackle air pollution

Work continues for cleaner air

Hundreds of businesses, school pupils and their parents have been targeted in the first year of an air quality initiative in Staffordshire.

Work so far includes developing travel plans with businesses to reduce the number of single workers commuting, improving air quality around schools and looking at the future demand for electric car charging points in the county.

And an awareness campaign is being launched later in June to increase general awareness of ways to reduce air pollution.

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

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

“This is a problem for everyone in our society and we are going to have to work together to make a difference.”

An update on work in progress, to be considered by the council’s Prosperous Staffordshire scrutiny committee, says that the authority is one of 16 nationally to receive funding from the Government for improvement work.

Running until the summer of 2020, the project aims for a 10 per cent reduction in local contributions on air pollution emissions and concentrations, and the county council is working with Staffordshire’s eight districts and boroughs, as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Highways England.

As part of the process officers are already working with businesses to encourage them to develop travel plans for their employees, so fewer people travel to and from work alone in cars.

Already, 15 schools, 6,500 pupils and 1,000 parents in priority areas are engaged 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. Helen Fisher added:

“Bad air quality affects some of Staffordshire’s communities and is the largest environmental risk to public health in this country.

“Not only does it have a disproportionate impact on the young and old, the sick and the poor, there is a huge cost to the health service and to the economy too.

“Our targeted approach aims to address these localised issues.”