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Clean Air Day: School roads closed to cut pollution

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One of Sheffield City Council's new hydrogen powered vehicles.

Roads outside two schools in Sheffield have been closed to mark Clean Air Day.

Nether Edge Primary and Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary have both restricted traffic during pick-up and drop-off times.

"Air pollution is a scandal that our country is finally waking up to," said Cabinet Member for the Environment Lewis Dagnall.

"We are preparing major plans for consultation on how to cut air pollution in the city centre, but steps like our 'anti-idling zones' are also crucial to protecting children."

Air pollution is closely related to climate crisis

He described the one-off closures as "a symbol which makes the important point that although there is much to do, we can make a difference on these issues."

Sheffield City Council have recently announced more radical policies on climate breakdown.

These include bringing forward the target date for the city to become carbon neutral from 2050 to "a minimum" of 2030.

At the last Full Council, Cllr Dagnall also announced that he would be forming a Citizens' Assembly to guide policymaking on climate breakdown.

We have just over decade to achieve a transition to carbon neutrality, in order to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change

Hackney Council have pioneered the closure of school streets. The London borough uses numberplate recognition cameras to enforce pick-up and drop-off closures outside seven primary schools.

Cllr Dagnall explained to Now Then that regulations prevented councils outside London from using cameras to close streets.

"We've got a team of officers who are seriously looking at what we can do with school streets," he said in May. "But under the powers we have as a non-London council, we'd have to get a guy to go out and close a gate every morning."

Sheffield City Council have announced that a consultation on the introduction of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will open on 1 July.

Birmingham and Leeds recently revealed that the introduction of their own zones in January 2020 have been postponed due to a central government delay.

The Council have told Now Then that the Sheffield CAZ, which will be rolled out in January 2021, is not currently affected by the delay.

"Air pollution is closely related to climate crisis they're both products of an unsustainable way of living," said Cllr Dagnall. "We have just over decade to achieve a transition to carbon neutrality, in order to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change."

Our lungs are being poisoned, children are struggling to breathe, there's an unseen miasma over the whole city

Extinction Rebellion will mark Clean Air Day by holding an action outside the station at 4:30pm today.

"Sheffield City Council's own research shows toxic levels of air pollution on our major roads, at the station, outside schools," said activist Adam Piette.

"We need to act now to control the use of cars in the city. Our lungs are being poisoned, children are struggling to breathe, there's an unseen miasma over the whole city."

Sam Gregory

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A notice of road closure outside Nether Edge Primary.

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