School air pollution rates revealed

Car exhaust
Car exhaust

None of the borough’s schools is near roads with harmful levels of illegal air pollution, new research has revealed.

A study commissioned by environmental law charity ClientEarth found more than 950 schools nationwide were within 150 metres of roads with harmful levels.

While that included 42 schools in Greater Manchester, none was in Wigan.

The data was revealed as ClientEarth launched its Poisoned Playgrounds campaign, which allows parents to check pollution at their children’s schools.

The charity has billboard adverts to highlight the issue and is encouraging people to contact their MP.

While Wigan schools seem to be away from illegal pollution, steps are still being made to help improve air quality.

Will Patterson, chairman of the Wigan And Leigh Green Party, said: “I’m a little bit surprised. Certainly congestion is a major issue around Wigan and the recent World Health Organisation study from 2013 showed that pollution levels in Wigan were extremely high and indeed dangerous.

“Assuming the report is correct, I think we have to be careful about complacency. I think we have to make sure we are trying to reduce car usage.”

Mark Tilley, Wigan Council’s assistant director for infrastructure and regulatory services, said: “As part of our commitment to improve the borough’s air quality we are in the early stages of planning an educational campaign to reduce car idling by motorists outside of schools. This will focus on education and promote good habits to reduce air pollution.

“We are working with Transport for Greater Manchester on implementing the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan which focuses on reducing harmful emissions from the region’s roads through a number of measures. These include to reduce traffic, improve traffic flow and encourage vehicles that have lower emissions.

“We also took a lead on promoting Clean Air Day earlier this year by signing the Greater Manchester clean air pledge and encourage our own staff to use environmentally-friendly transport where possible.”

The Post has previously reported experts’ concerns that high, but legal, levels of pollution could still affect children.

Research by Energydesk and Greenpeace UK showed part of the A49 Riverway had illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide.