Funding secured for research into vehicle emissions around schools

Published: 24 May 2019

A year long research programme will begin to measure car emissions around Slough schools after securing almost £100,000 in funding.

Slough Borough Council was one of 28 local authority projects granted funding from the government to investigate nitrogen dioxide, NO2, pollution. The results will be used to
better understand the impact that idling vehicles have on air quality.

New technology sensors will be placed in strategic positions around three schools in the borough, which are yet to be decided, for 12 months starting this summer.

The council has a legal duty to review and assess local air quality in the borough to ensure air quality standards and objectives are being achieved, under the Environmental Health Act 1995.

The authority has to designate locations where pollutant concentrations exceeding government air quality objectives of 40 microgrammes per metre cubed of nitrogen dioxide and particulates. There are five air quality management areas which exceed the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide in the borough.

Cllr Rob Anderson, cabinet member for transport and environmental services, said Slough’s low emissions strategy (2018-2025) adopted September 2018, forms part of the new air quality action plan to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from road transport and improve health outcomes.

The information from the new project will be used to support the low emissions strategy with a primary focus on improving and increasing sustainable public infrastructure, increasing the modal shift away from the car and reducing congestion.

He said: “The project will focus on nitrogen dioxide emissions originating from idling vehicles and congestion around three schools, to produce an evidence base from which implementation of Sustainable Travel measures can be used to encourage behavioural change.

“This will be achieved by installing air quality sensors on lamp posts close to school boundaries, so the impact of idling vehicles during peak school pick up and drop off times, can be monitored.

“One of the key objectives within Slough’s five year plan is to protect the livelihood and wellbeing of children. As the health impacts related to poor air quality are becoming more apparent, the need to monitor the impact of vehicle emissions outside of schools is increasing.

“Evidence from these monitors will be used to help achieve aims of our low emission strategy. We want to improve air quality everywhere but outside schools is an obvious place to start.

“We must show people what damage they are doing to their own children outside all schools but this will enable us to identify the worst cases and take extra measures for local communities.

“Continuous monitoring of air quality outside of schools will also allow the impact of air quality awareness and public health campaigns to be observed.”

More than £3 million was available from the government’s air quality grant for 28 projects to benefit and implement measures for local communities.

Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “While we know air pollution has reduced significantly in recent decades, it is still the top environmental risk to health in the UK.

“Local authorities are best placed to introduce systems that work best for their areas, which is why we are working closely with them to ensure they have the appropriate funding and support.”