SEPA works with pupils to mark the launch of a scheme to cut down on vehicle traffic outside schools as part of Clean Air Day

  17 June 2021
SEPA is monitoring air quality levels around two Montrose schools and educating pupils about air pollution through SEPA’s ‘Learn About Air’ educational initiative as part of Clean Air Day 2021.

School pupils teamed up with air quality campaigners such as SEPA today to mark Clean Air Day and celebrate the launch of a scheme to cut down on vehicle traffic outside schools.

Ferryden Primary School in Montrose, Muirfield Primary School in Arbroath and Langlands Primary in Forfar are participating in the trial of Angus Council’s new school exclusion zones.

Streets directly outside the schools are closed to traffic at busy pick-up and drop-off times during term time to improve air quality, safety, congestion and to encourage children to walk and cycle to and from school.

Large signs flash a signal when the zone is in operation to warn motorists from entering the affected streets and only local residents inside the zone can apply for parking permits.

The zones launched as an 18-month trial (on 7th June) and are already raising awareness of air quality among pupils and parents, according to Ferryden Primary’s headteacher Michelle MacKay.

The pupils are learning about air pollution through SEPA’s ‘Learn About Air’ educational initiative which provides videos for classroom activities. They have monitored air quality levels around the school both before and after the zones started.

At least 100 schools, businesses, local authorities and other organisations in Scotland are taking part in Clean Air Day – a national air quality campaign.

Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day, which is coordinated by Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS) on behalf of the Scottish Government, working with the charity Global Action Plan, encourages people to leave the car at home, cycle or walk and use less busy streets where there is a 30% reduced risk of exposure to air pollution.

The campaign, in its fifth year, urges motorists to switch off their engines whilst their vehicles are stationary and consider buying an electric vehicle.

Michelle Mackay said: “The initiative has certainly cut down on the traffic coming into the crescent outside school and making it much safer for the children and our families, who are walking to school and waiting to come into school. It is also helping to promote the message to reduce air pollution with our whole school community. Learning about reducing air pollution is part of the curriculum and as is something we are focusing on to apply for our Eco Schools Green Flag.”

Councillor Mark Salmond, Communities Convener at Angus Council said: “It’s wonderful to see pupils of Ferryden Primary School celebrate Clean Air Day and spread the message about how important it is that we reduce air pollution and improve the air we breathe.

“Through initiatives like Clean Air Day and school exclusion zones we’re helping to not only raise awareness of how air pollution affects our health but are encouraging families and our youngest generations to make healthy, active travel choices. We’ll be looking carefully at the results from the school exclusion zones we’re currently trialling at three schools in Angus to see how effective they prove to be in reducing air pollution.”

John Bynorth of Environmental Protection Scotland, coordinators of Clean Air Day in Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “The theme of this year’s campaign is to reduce air pollution to improve the health of our children and we’re delighted the three schools in Angus Council introduced the school exclusion zones in time for the event.

“Scotland was the first area of the UK to introduce School Streets in 2015, which provide opportunities for pupils to walk and cycle vehicle-free streets outside their school and had led to improvements in air quality, reduced congestion and better safety. The school exclusion zones are a similar idea and will bring health benefits for children and young people, as well as members of the local community.

“We’ve almost 100 supporters, including schools from Inverness to Stranraer taking part in Clean Air Day in Scotland. There have been almost 400 downloads of the Clean Air Day Scotland resources for the 2021 campaign.

“Clean Air Day is bringing about real changes in public attitudes towards car use and active travel, use of less polluted routes when walking or cycling and engine idling of vehicles whilst they are stationary.”

Air pollution monitoring

SEPA has worked with over half of Scotland’s local authorities on air pollution monitoring and educational projects covering metropolitan, urban, rural and remote rural areas. Over 50 schools were involved in 2019 and as we move out of COVID-19 restrictions new and existing schools are coming to SEPA to want to learn more about air pollution.

SEPA carries out air quality monitoring around schools (on request) and this information is provided to allow pupils to learn about air pollution, the effects it has on their health and the environment and how they can take steps to reduce air pollution.

Dr Colin Gillespie Principal Scientist (Air), a spokesperson for SEPA said: “Good air quality is essential for a good quality of life, helping to maintain human health and wellbeing, our climate and habitats. It’s also vital in our work towards becoming a net zero nation. 

“We’ve all got role to play in tackling air pollution, whether that be SEPA’s work in supporting the science behind Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs), in working with young people and schools, or in the travel choices we each make every day.  Together we can improve our air quality and help deliver Net Zero.”

To celebrate the campaign, pupils at the three Angus Council primary schools involved in the pilot scheme were yesterday given Clean Air Day colouring books – a collaboration between Environmental Protection Scotland and art students from across Scotland. The books are packed with drawings for children to bring to life on an air pollution and environmental theme.

More details about the Angus Council school exclusion zones can be found here .

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Environmental Protection Scotland

  • Clean Air Day, now in the fifth year, is a national air quality campaign which is coordinated across the UK, by Global Action Plan. In Scotland, the event is coordinated by Environmental Protection Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, which in 2015 launched the Cleaner Air For Scotland strategy.
  • Environmental Protection Scotland is an impartial, academic-based charity that aims to build a cleaner, quieter and sustainable Scotland. Find out more here www.ep-scotland.org.uk
  • The first National Clean Air Day took place on 15th June 2017. In 2018, it became known as Clean Air Day and since then has grown in stature with more and more events and participants. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Clean Air Day Scotland campaign was delayed from its traditional date to October 2020, yet still attracted over 140 participating organisations and individuals from schools, local authorities, businesses and charities across Scotland.
  • Between June 2018 and before the pandemic, major Clean Air Day public events were held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, the four Scottish cities which are to introduce Low Emission Zones over the next few years. Certain city centre streets were closed off to vehicles on the day itself to highlight the health and air quality improvements from cutting down on car use and encouraging cycling, walking and use of public transport in place of private vehicles.
  • The Clean Air Day Scotland resources can be found here www.cleanairday.org.uk/scotland

 

SEPA – Air Quality

  • Further educational resources for schools can be found at LearnAboutAir.com
  • SEPA works closely with partner organisations such as local authorities, Cycling Scotland and Living Streets to coordinate and contribute to local and national active travel campaigns, such as Beat the Street, which help improve air quality and change behaviours.
  • SEPA is one of the partners in the Clean Air for Scotland (CAFS) strategy with a statutory role in helping councils report on and comply with legal requirements for air quality in their areas  - Air Quality in Scotland www.scottishairquality.scot . SEPA also embeds conditions to control air pollution from industrial activities in many regulatory permits to ensure the ongoing protection of communities and the environment.
  • SEPA has developed a National Modelling Framework (NMF), with the aim to provide a standardised approach to assist those local authorities developing Low Emission Zones and to develop a regional model to assess the potential impacts of future land development at local and regional levels. This is a key element of delivering CAFS, which provides the ability to prioritise actions and support the selection of measures to tackle air pollution, supporting the implementation of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs).