Eastbourne Borough Council is the latest local authority to launch an anti-idling campaign for motorists dropping-off and picking-up outside schools.
Schools across Eastbourne are being invited to sign up to the campaign and those that do will receive digital information packs to send out to parents and pupils giving them the opportunity to find out more about air pollution and ways to reduce it.
The RAC says idling engines produce levels of CO2, NO2 and PM2.5 over two times as many as those in motion, with most instances coming from ‘avoidable’ road situations such as waiting to pick someone up outside a workplace or school.
The latter situation is of particular alarm as children breathe in up to three times more air relative to their weight, meaning they take in a greater volume of toxic air which can stunt lung growth and increase their risk of respiratory disease.
Cllr Jonathan Dow, cabinet member for Place Services, said: ‘Air pollution is a major environmental risk to everyone’s health but in particular it’s a concern for children, as it can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity. We want to educate drivers about how air pollution affects health so that they change their habits to always switch engines off while stationary.’
The first school to sign up to the council campaign is Cavendish School.
Headteacher Peter Marchant said: ‘This is a great initiative and we hope everyone takes notice of what is being said. Leaving an engine running while waiting in the car is an unnecessary source of air pollution, and combatting this outside schools is especially important because there are potentially a high number of idling vehicle engines here at drop-off and pick-up times.’
Last week, a Public Health England (PHE) review of evidence on how to improve air quality called for a nationwide ban on cars idling outside schools to tackle the problem.
However, an Air Quality News investigation revealed that of the five councils who have been actively fining motorists for idling, only a handful have been issued.
It’s raised questions over how effective council strategies are when it comes to vehicle idling, with air quality campaigners calling the current system of enforcement ‘not fit for purpose’.