Improving air quality for young people at Calderdale’s first Bike Friendly School

11 June 2019

An innovative “green screen” is being tested at Burnley Road Academy in Mytholmroyd to help make the air cleaner for younger people.

Calderdale Council has installed a plant-based perimeter fence around the playground at Burnley Road Academy - the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's first Bike Friendly School in the borough - as part of its priority to tackle air pollution.

As national Clean Air Day approaches (Thursday 20 June), the council is raising awareness of the damage air pollution is having on our health.

Transport is a major source of pollution. Burnley Road Academy was identified as the first school to trial this new screen due to its location alongside a busy road.

The screen will help absorb harmful pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and other particulate matter, as well as improving the look of the school.

Although reducing existing pollution is incredibly important, the Council’s new Let’s Clear the Air campaign aims to encourage more sustainable travel choices, such as walking and cycling, to reduce pollution.

Burnley Road Academy is leading the way in this area, as the borough’s first Bike Friendly School, benefitting from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot.

Thanks to funding through CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme, Burnley Road Academy has a new shelter with space for up to 30 bikes and scooters.

The team has also provided free training for pupils from years one through to four, teaching children to use a balance bike, learn to ride and improve their cycling skills.

The school is close to the Rochdale Canal towpath improvements underway between Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden, thanks to Department for Transport funding secured by the Combined Authority and Calderdale Council, with additional contributions from both organisations.

Once complete, the route will be a traffic-free, flat and attractive alternative route to the busy A646.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “Instilling a love of cycling in children from a young age has long-lasting benefits, encouraging independent travel as a teenager and creating good habits for an active adult life.

“Through our CityConnect programme, the Combined Authority is working in partnership to make cycling and walking a viable option for all residents – regardless of age, ability or circumstance – by not only delivering new and improved infrastructure, but also through initiatives such as our Bike Friendly Schools scheme.

“Encouraging more of us to travel by bike or on foot not only boosts people’s health and saves individuals money, it also brings wider environmental and economic benefits, which is why we want to make cycling and walking a natural choice for short, everyday journeys, including the school run.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Cllr Scott Patient, said: “Tackling air pollution is a real priority and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to test out the use of green screens to monitor their effectiveness in reducing pollutants.

“Burnley Road is one of the busiest roads in Calderdale and two of our Air Quality Management Areas – areas where air quality objectives are not being achieved – are located on this road. Children are more vulnerable to breathing in polluted air than adults, so it’s important we do all we can to protect them from harmful toxins.”

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Adam Wilkinson, said: “It’s vital that we act now to prevent young people growing up with irreversible health issues caused by air pollution.

“Burnley Road Academy is leading the way, not only in the installation of green screens to reduce pollutants, but also by promoting the many benefits of choosing cycling and walking as an alternative to car use for short, everyday journeys, like the school run.”

Clare Cope, Headteacher of Burnley Road Academy, added: “We are delighted that Calderdale chose Burnley Road to test the first green screen. A number of parents and staff had shown concerns about increasing volumes of standing traffic, so we hope the screen makes a positive difference and impacts on air quality for the children at our school.”

Catching the “bike bug” at Burnley Road Academy: Meet Ted Theaker, Deputy Headteacher.

Find out more information about CityConnect's Bike Friendly Schools scheme.