New project to tackle air quality in South Wigston

Published: Thursday, 8 February 2024

Oadby & Wigston Borough Council (OWBC) is joining forces with Leicestershire County Council and Parkland Primary School to trial and develop new initiatives with primary school aged children and their families.

Photo of girl from Parkland Primary School holding up a poster she designed to encourage active travel to school.

Observations and data in the Blaby Road area of South Wigston suggest that high levels of commuter traffic and congestion at peak times is causing concerning levels of air quality. This is particularly problematic to those with vulnerabilities and existing health concerns, but also negatively impacts children and young people, and can increase the chance of conditions such as asthma developing.

An air quality monitor will be installed close to the school to provide improved real time data on levels of pollution.

Projects and interventions being organised with the school include:

  • Engaging and interactive lessons for school pupils about the positive impact they and their families can have on air quality and the local environment
  • Providing pupils with an activity tracker to encourage more walking and cycling instead of car journeys
  • A ‘learn to cycle’ programme with Key Stage 1 children
  • An anti-idling campaign to encourage parents to turn off engines outside the school gates.

Cllr Carl Walter from OWBC said: “There is clear data that shows air quality around Blaby Road is poor and we want people to start thinking about how this is affecting others, especially the younger generation.

“Partnering up with Leicestershire County Council and Parkland Primary will help start raising the profile of this problem in the local community. Educating youngsters and having them help carry messages about issues of this nature is a proven way of creating a positive impact.

“Clearly though this about far more than just school traffic, the issue is commuter traffic in general and the impacts of this. Our work with Parkland Primary is a way to start provoking these conversations in the community so we can all look at our lifestyles and ways in which we can reduce car travel and increase our active travel such as cycling and walking.”

Councillor Louise Richardson, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Air pollution has serious negative effects on people’s health, and is something that Leicestershire County Council takes very seriously.

"Initiatives like this can make a real difference, and it's great to be part of a project which educates and encourages parents and children to do their bit to improve the environment for everyone."

Laura Pryor, Healthy Schools Co-ordinator from Parkland Primary School, said: “"The health and wellbeing of our pupils is hugely important to us at Parkland. As such, we’re very excited to be part of this project which is working to directly improve the lives of our pupils”

The initiatives and pilots with Parkland Primary will run throughout the 2023/24 school year.

(Pictured: Year 4 pupil Elsa with her competition-winning poster to encourage active travel).