Bradford Council is set to introduce a pioneering initiative called the Clean Air Schools programme, aimed at improving air quality in the vicinity of schools. This groundbreaking project, which will be funded through revenue generated from the Clean Air Zone, marks the first program of its kind to receive financial support. The Council’s Executive is expected to review and approve the proposal on Tuesday.

The comprehensive report outlining the Clean Air Schools programme highlights its core objectives, which include fostering cleaner air for educational institutions through an extensive range of measures such as engagement, education, awareness campaigns, and grants for individual schools.

According to the Charging Schemes Order (CSO), which serves as the legal framework for the Clean Air Zone, funds derived from the scheme must be invested in alignment with its stipulations. Among these provisions, the order explicitly mentions utilising net proceeds from the Clean Air Zone to “support schools in reducing emissions” and “mitigate traffic emissions in proximity to schools.” As such, the council will be able to utilise the net proceeds from the Clean Air Zone without incurring additional costs for the council or taxpayers.

Health Research conducted by the Bradford NHS (Born In Bradford) underscores the urgent need for action, as it has revealed that vehicle pollution accounts for 38% of childhood asthma cases in Bradford. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children in the city already grapple with respiratory issues. The Clean Air Schools programme aims to diminish emissions around schools by collaborating with educational institutions and parents.

The implementation of new measures is expected to reduce the number of vehicles idling near school premises. Moreover, the program will provide targeted grants to schools, particularly in areas plagued by poor air quality, in order to further reduce emissions. Research conducted in Bradford indicates that the greatest health benefits from improved air quality will be experienced by the city’s most disadvantaged communities.

Enhancing air quality in the vicinity of schools is of paramount importance for the well-being of children, parents, and staff, particularly during the busy school drop-off and pick-up times. Under the Clean Air Schools Programme, individual schools will have the opportunity to apply for grants to implement effective solutions aimed at reducing emissions and air pollution. The council plans to augment the number of wardens who will collaborate closely with schools, thereby bolstering enforcement and engagement efforts on roads surrounding school premises.

Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, emphasised the imperative of addressing air pollution, particularly in the vicinity of schools, stating, “Air pollution, especially around schools, has negative health impacts on children and families in our district, and this is something we must take responsibility to improve.”

She further added, “There are many safety concerns at school drop-off time due to congestion, but the impact of toxic fumes from vehicle engines is proven to cause health problems for young children, and there’s evidence that it can negatively affect educational attainment too.”

Ferriby highlighted the significance of the Clean Air Schools programme as part of the council’s broader objective to create a safer and cleaner environment for people of all ages. She acknowledged that this initiative represents the first allocation of revenue from the government-directed Clean Air Zone and stressed the council’s commitment to collaborating with schools to enhance enforcement measures and combat harmful pollution near school entrances. Additionally, the council aims to offer families more opportunities to engage in active travel to and from school, promoting healthier lifestyles while reducing pollution.

The launch of the Clean Air Schools programme in Bradford signifies a significant step forward in addressing the pressing issue of air pollution and its detrimental effects on children’s health and well-being. By prioritising cleaner air in the vicinity of schools, the council aims to create a healthier and more conducive learning environment for students, while fostering the overall betterment of the community.