Pa weithdrefnau sydd ar waith i liniaru effeithiau llygredd aer ar blant mewn ysgolion a meithrinfeydd ledled Cymru?
Our new statutory policy guidance recognises schools, amongst others, as “sensitive receptor locations” and in doing so requires local authorities to give special consideration to the same when carrying out their duties of local air quality management.
It is however important to recognise that children are more likely to be exposed to far higher levels of air pollution when travelling to and from school than when actually on school grounds. As such, the new statutory guidance clearly states that in working towards the well-being of future generations, Local Authorities should give special consideration to the long-term risks posed to babies and children by exposure to air pollution, whether in their homes, in their school or nursery, or travelling between the two.
The need to raise awareness of this important issue is essential to changing travel behaviours so as to make improvements to poor air quality around schools and more generally. The “school run” is acknowledged as contributing heavily to levels of air pollution and traffic congestion on roads and as such immediate action is required to combat this.
As part of the wider work on communication and behavioural change in relation to air quality, I have already agreed funding to support an awareness raising and behaviour change project around air quality with school children through the Eco Schools programme.
The project focuses on helping pupils understand the causes of air pollution and its health impacts and how to take action to improve to air quality around their school and local area. This could involve cutting down on the “school run” through more walking, cycling or scooting, more “walking buses”, or introducing car-sharing and running anti-idling campaigns. Up to 130 Eco-Schools across Wales will be able to take part in the project.
Welsh Government also supports cleaner travel to schools through the Active Journeys programme, run by Sustrans, which works in schools across Wales to get more children and parents to walk, cycle and scoot to school. The programme delivers a package of interventions to support schools in changing travel to school behaviour and enabling active travel within schools.