GETTING employees to use more sustainable travel to and from work, encouraging pupils and parents to travel sustainably and looking at the future demand for electric car charging points are amongst the activities underway to help tackle air pollution in Staffordshire.
The update follows a report by the British Heart Foundation published this week which claims that heart attack and stroke deaths related to toxic air could exceed 160,000 over the next decade. The charity goes on to say that the issue of poor air quality is a ‘major public health emergency’ and must be addressed urgently by the new government.
Staffordshire County Council declared a climate change emergency in July 2019 and hundreds of businesses, school pupils and their parents have already been targeted in the first year of the county’s air quality initiative.
The Conquer the Cold Commuter Challenge which launched this winter is also calling on people to travel differently just one day a week on their commute to and from work.
Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said: “We know that exposure to air pollution is costing lives and damaging the health of others. 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 Air Aware Staffordshire initiative and commuter campaigns are really simple and are helping raise everyone’s awareness of the small, easy things we can all do to reduce air pollution and help us all breathe easier. For example, by walking or cycling to work and school, we can improve our health through exercise, limit air pollution and lower greenhouse gases all at the same time.”
Officers continue to work 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. They are 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 up.
Staffordshire County Council is one of 16 authorities to receive funding from the Government and will work with the county’s eight districts and boroughs, as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Highways England. The project will run until summer 2020 and aims to contribute to the improvement in air quality by promoting active and sustainable transport throughout the County and city.
People can get tips on the things they can do to help improve air quality on the Staffordshire Air Aware website.
People can sign up for the Conquer the Cold Commuter Challenge on the Doing Our Bit website.
People can find the British Heart Foundation report on the BHF website.