Could You be an Air Quality Champion for Reading?

THERE’S still time for volunteers to come forward and become Reading Air Quality Champions in time for Clean Air Day on Thursday this week (June 20th).

Reading recently became the latest in a long line of local authorities to declare a climate change emergency, pledging to work towards creating ‘Zero Carbon Reading’ by 2030. And while air quality in the town is generally good, nitrogen dioxide levels close to some busy roads exceed safe guidelines.

On Thursday June 20th  – national Clean Air Day – Reading Borough Council is hosting a ‘no idling day’.  Motorists will be asked to switch off their engines to cut back on harmful emissions and to improve air quality for local people. The Council is seeking volunteers  to become local Air Quality champions, helping persuade motorists to ‘switch off’ and to spread clean air messages.

Volunteers would meet at Reading Town Hall at 9am on Thursday to receive training around the strong link between idling engines and poor health and for tips on how best to approach drivers who leave car engines running. It includes providing them with information to help them quash some common myths, like re-starting your engine burns more fuel than leaving it idling. Drivers are also invited to become part of the campaign to improve air quality by switching off.

The friendly and informative approach has had a 75% success rate when used in other towns or cities. Volunteering is easy. Go to http://www.reading.gov.uk/idlingaction to register or to find out more.

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“Reading faces serious challenges in terms of poor air quality which is having a real impact on the health of residents. The Council will be consulting on a new Local Transport Plan later this summer, which will include borough-wide strategies for car parking and air quality. In the meantime, Clean Air Day is an opportunity for anyone worried about air quality to do their bit by helping to educate drivers about the importance of switching off their engines when stationary.”

Cllr Graeme Hoskin
Cllr Hoskin

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said:

“We know the myth around keeping your engine running because it is cheaper and better for your car continues to exist, even though the opposite is true. Stationary vehicles can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as when they are moving, which has a real negative effect on people’s health. I hope that by hosting a Clean Air Day in Reading, local Air Quality Champions can help to inform and educate motorists and raise the profile of what is a key public health issue.”

Air Quality Champion volunteers will be given a pre-event briefing to cover information about the no idling campaign day, including a recap about our health and safety guidance and they will be provided with high vis vests. Volunteers will go out in pairs to specific zones to ask motorists to join the campaign to improve local air quality and switch off.

There will also be a giant air quality themed snakes and ladders game outside Reading Station from 10am to midday, which some volunteers will help to run. Volunteers will also be handing out leaflets and mini versions of the game to passers-by.

For more information on National Clean Air Day visit: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/

PHOTOCALL: You are invited to send a photographer / film at the giant themed snakes and ladders game at 12 midday on June 20th directly in front of Reading Station where Cllrs Page and Hoskin will be taking part.

Notes to Editor:

Air quality in Reading is generally good. However, there are key areas close to congested roads where levels of nitrogen dioxide exceed the air quality objectives and where levels of particulates are elevated. Particulates are classified by their mass (PM10 and PM2.5), with the smaller particulates, PM2.5 being more harmful due to their ability to travel further into the lung.

Reading’s annual concentration of fine particulate matter exposure was 10.4 µg/m3, compared to 9.3 µg/m3 for England and 9.8 µg/m3 for the South East England.

In Reading in 2017, the number of estimated deaths linked to air pollution was 63. The levels of the respiratory condition COPD are worse than the national average.

Reading Borough Council and its partners have delivered a large number of major sustainable transport schemes in recent years. They include the major redevelopment of Reading Station; the upgrade of Junction 11 of the M4; the new Mereoak Park and Ride; the first phases of South Reading’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) route; and Christchurch Bridge, the Council’s pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames.

More recently, along with Network Rail, the Council have widened and lowered Cow Lane, enabling two way traffic, lorries and buses to pass under the new bridges for the first time ever and creating dedicated new cycle and pedestrian facilities. The Council-owned bus company – Reading Buses – goes from strength to strength, providing one of the cleanest, most modern and most extensive bus networks in the UK.  The Council is also working to deliver a brand new railway station at Green Park, major improvements to Reading West Station and a new cross-Reading (and Berkshire) cycle route.

 

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301