A Bodmin school reclaims their street for Clean Air Day

One billion trips are made on the school run every year across the UK, pumping an estimated two million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s why one group of children in Bodmin is declaring the road outside their school a car free zone later this month.

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The children at Berrycoombe School and the Happy Days Nursery, working in partnership with Cornwall Council and Sustrans, will be reclaiming the street outside their school, opening a park and stride and taking part in street games to mark Clean Air Day (June 20th).  This special traffic-free event will be the first of its kind in Cornwall, piloting work that national charity Sustrans has trialled successfully in other parts of the country.

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Rob Nolan, said: “We are urging parents and carers to not drive on Berrycoombe Vale for the school run, instead encouraging them to walk, scoot or cycle to school. Statistics show a huge amount of our journeys are less than two miles, and there is a lot we can do in our own lives to walk and cycle more, which will in turn reduce our carbon footprint.

“But we know what this is not possible for everyone, so where car use is essential, we are asking people to use Scarletts Well Road car park as a ‘park and stride’ facility, just a few minutes’ walk from the school.”

The children at Berrycoombe will make the most of the car free zone outside of their school and will take part in traditional games like hopscotch, produce chalk art on the road and be able to have their bike and scooter checked by experts from the charity Sustrans.

Cllr Nolan continued: “We know that car exhaust fumes are a major contributor to air pollution and it’s great to see schools like Berrycoombe taking the initiative and working with Sustrans to improve the quality of the air the pupils are breathing. Changes like this can make a big difference to the quality of our air and to our children’s health.”

During Clean Air Day, between 8am and 9.30am and 2pm and 4.30pm, residents will still have access to the area and any drivers will be marshalled at walking pace once the road has been cleared. 

Bodmin is one of Cornwall Council’s eight Air Quality Management Areas where the authority is taking action to improve air quality. Monitoring by the Council shows nitrogen dioxide is sometimes higher than average in the Bodmin area with exhaust fumes from cars and lorries being the biggest source of nitrogen dioxide.

James Cleeton, Sustrans Director for England South, said: “The evidence on air pollution and the risk it poses to the public’s health is clear, so we must take action.

“It is great to be working with Berrycoombe School and Cornwall Council on this initiative, which will help to raise awareness and tackle the issue of poor air quality.

“We hope that everyone who participates will continue to make choices that help reduce air pollution. Enabling people to make walking and cycling a normal part of their day will play a huge role in improving air quality, particularly around our schools, and will protect future generations for years to come.

“To help clean up our air, the UK Government needs to show leadership by helping local authorities fund and deliver better cycling and walking infrastructure, so that every child is able to travel on foot or by bike to school in safety and with confidence.”

It’s predicted that up to 36,000 deaths each year in the UK are caused by air pollution.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) sets maximum limits for how air pollution that shouldn't be passed. These limits look at daily and annual averages. Almost 2,000 locations in the UK are above these limits and there are places in the UK where the air pollution is three times as high as the WHO limits.

Elsewhere, visitors to Truro can use the Park and Ride for free on Clean Air Day (Thursday 20th of June).  The Cornwall Council owned service is providing free transport to help reduce the number of car journeys into the city.

Councillor Rob Nolan concluded: “Air pollution concentrates around the areas where it is formed; so places that have lots of traffic can have higher levels of pollution.  We hope that by opening up the Park and Ride for the day will reduce the number of car journeys into the city centre and encourage to people to park out of town.”

For more information on Clean Air Day visit: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk