The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has allocated a £259,000 air quality grant to Wokingham Borough Council and neighbouring councils Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire to work with the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) to deliver air quality improvements across the boroughs.
The funding will be used to support work currently being implemented in Wokingham 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, aiming to encourage a behavioural change.
The council will measure specifically for PM2.5, an atmospheric particular matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, or roughly 3% of the diameter of a human hair, equivalent to dust, ash and sea-spray.
Through PPP Wokingham Borough Council has monitored 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 will allow the council to carry out further monitoring for this around schools in and near the borough’s air quality management areas, checking for potentially harmful air particulates.
According to the council, the monitoring will give it 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 its projects to be assessed.
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.”
The funding comes after Wokingham Borough Council announced its air quality improvement project had been extended after receiving £125,000 grant from 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 the borough with a focus on health and the environment.
The council’s 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.