The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has allocated a £259,000 air quality grant to allow Wokingham Borough Council, together with neighbouring councils Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire, to work with the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) to deliver ambitious and exciting improvements to air quality across these boroughs.
This funding will support the positive work already being implemented in Wokingham Borough to help it become carbon neutral by 2030. The council will work in partnership with the PPP on anti-idling projects, alongside a focus on the impacts of pollution around schools, encouraging a behavioural change.
The council will be measuring specifically for PM2.5, which is an atmospheric particular matter which has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, roughly three per cent of the diameter of a human hair. Some examples include dust, ash and sea-spray.
Wokingham borough benefits from some of the best countryside in the country and boasts generally good air quality. However, through PPP the Council has been monitoring the pollutant nitrogen dioxide that can be found in some localised areas at an undesirable level which can be due to vehicle related pollution.
The funding allows the council to carry out a substantial monitoring regime for this around schools in and near our air quality management areas, checking for harmful air particulates.
This monitoring will give the council an understanding of pollution levels in the area, support its work with schools and find site specific ways to reduce the levels of harmful air particulates while allowing the impact of our projects to be assessed. Behavioural change is a key part of this project delivered through a variety of techniques.
Clare Lawrence, assistant director for place at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We are thrilled to be working with our neighbouring authorities through PPP to improve air quality in the local area. We are committed to promoting a clean and healthy borough and we welcome help and guidance from the PPP to enable this.
“We can all play our part in improving the air quality across our borough. Small changes like turning off your engine while sitting at traffic lights can have a big impact that will positively affect for all of us.”
This vital funding comes just after Wokingham Borough Council announced its air quality improvement project has been extended after receiving £125,000 grant from the DEFRA. Previous funding had been used by the council to employ a dedicated eco-travel officer who has been working directly in schools with teachers, pupils and their families to increase active travel and improve the air quality within Wokingham Borough with a focus on health and the environment.
The council eco-travel officer will continue to deliver a series of one-off events, active travel initiatives, campaigns and educational resources to increase active travel and reduce air pollutant emissions, with particular attention on key target areas within the borough.
These projects will support not only the environmental priorities of the council but also work to protect residents from the health impact of poor air quality.
For further information about air quality in Wokingham borough visit the council website and search air quality.
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