Clean air investment projects to reduce harmful pollution for Sheffield’s children

Several projects designed to reduce children’s exposure to harmful road pollution around their schools are to be expanded as part of plans to spend money generated from the Clean Air Zone (CAZ). 

The Council’s Transport, Regeneration and Climate Committee will hear the proposal to invest £1m of the income from the Clean Air Zone. Any funding from the CAZ must be used in line with Government regulations and guidance which requires funding to be used to support improvements to local transport with the aim of further improving air quality.   

It is recommended that an initial £1m is allocated towards a number of projects including, School Streets, ModeShift Stars, Community and school cycle storage and 20mph part-time zones outside schools which help to reduce traffic outside schools at key times and provide support to encourage pupils, staff and parents to adopt an active lifestyle by walking, cycling and wheeling to school. Further work on potential environmental improvements, including green walls at schools, will also be undertaken as part of the development of the investment plan. 

Poor air quality is increasingly seen as one of the world’s most significant public health challenges with the impact on the long-term health of children being even greater. In Sheffield, it is estimated that poor air quality contributes to around 500 deaths a year, but it also has an impact on the quality of life for people in the city. Traffic related air pollution is thought to be specifically responsible for as many as 12 percent of annual childhood asthma cases across the city. 

As part of the Council’s proposed Clean Air Investment Plan, projects including School Streets will be expanded. Since our School Streets programme was introduced back in September 2021 Sheffield City Council has supported 12 Primary Schools and the first Secondary School, Astrea Academy Sheffield, went live in January 2024. As part of the project, the main road outside each school is closed to vehicles during the morning and afternoon school runs to make it a safer environment for the pupils and to encourage an active travel lifestyle by reducing the reliance on car travel.

The Council has already installed 27 part-time 20mph zones outside schools in Sheffield to enhance the safety of children and young people going to and from school. With additional funding from the Clean Air Investment Plan this can now be expanded to accelerate the delivery of the other, currently un-funded schools in the city which have been identified as priority locations.

Cllr Ben Miskell, Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Committee, said: “Air pollution in Sheffield, especially around schools has a negative impact on our children’s health and improving the air they breathe is our number one priority. 

“The expansion of projects like school streets, 20mph zones encouraging sustainable journeys to school, and the potential for green walls at schools is just part of our overall commitment to reducing the levels of harmful gases in the atmosphere. Drop-off and pick-up times can be particularly hazardous but with the introduction of these measures, we are already taking steps to improve air quality. 

“Using the funding we get from the Clean Air Zone will allow us to continue to work with schools across Sheffield to cut the amount of harmful gases, help improve air quality and encourage people to get to school in an active and sustainable way. Our new Clean Air Investment Plan will help us to improve children’s health and give people more choice about how they travel.” 

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