School children across the country have been celebrating Clean Air Day in Wales today, as part of efforts to teach the next generation about air pollution and how they can help to reduce it.
Welsh Government has partnered with the Global Action Plan charity to support Clean Air Day, with a number of events and initiatives taking place across Wales, as part of efforts to raise awareness about the causes of air pollution and actions needed to reduce personal emissions and personal exposure.
Caerphilly County Borough Council organised a five-day event at Caerphilly Castle celebrating and promoting the day, with schools nearby using a walking bus to attend and those based further away using an electric bus. The event hosts a theatrical production of ‘Abbie Ayre and the Shed of Science’ performed by Performance in Education as well as fun interactive sessions with key partners such as Tenovus, Head 4 Arts, CADW, Optare, Stagecoach, South Wales Fire & Rescue service and Healthy Air Cymru with support and donations from Welsh Government and Caerphilly Garden Centre.
The event aimed to raise awareness of Clean Air Day and encourage everyone to make changes in their day to day life to help reduce air pollutants and improve air quality.
As well as the Caerphilly event, a number of initiatives and events have been run across Wales to mark Clean Air Day. The Welsh Government has supported action across Wales through providing a range of bilingual resources for schools, businesses, communities and the health sector. This includes Clean Air Day leaflets, stickers and flashing LED shoe clips which promote road safety when walking or cycling for all of the children attending the Caerphilly Castle event.
Earlier in the week Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, outlined Welsh Government efforts to tackle air pollution and improve air quality in an oral statement in the Senedd.
A Clean Air Plan is currently being developed and is set to be consulted on in the autumn, ahead of the creation of a Clean Air Act for Wales. Ambitious actions are being developed to improve air quality and minimise levels of public exposure to a range of air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, attended Caerphilly Castle to see first-hand the Clean Air Day activities and said: “Caerphilly County Borough Council have done a sterling job supporting and celebrating Clean Air Day, helping teach schoolchildren how they can change their everyday life to make a massive impact on air quality for future generations to come.
“I welcome the high level of participation and interest in events and initiatives being held as part of Clean Air Day to raise awareness of this incredibly important issue and what we can do to tackle it.
“We must all think, individually, about what we can do differently at home, through our travel and elsewhere, to encourage people to reduce the amount of pollution we are all breathing in.
“I would urge everyone to pledge to support the clean air day campaign to ensure sustained improvements in air quality to protect public health and well-being, biodiversity and our natural environment.”
Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan, said: “Our air pollution crisis is solvable, and we should use Clean Air Day to also think about what we can do to breathe clean air every day. There are so many simple things you can do to protect yourself from air pollution, such as using quieter streets away from traffic, and one of the best ways you can help clear up our toxic air is to walk or cycle instead of using the car. It’s so important to make cleaner choices about the way we travel.”
Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr. Sean Morgan attended the event and commented, “Caerphilly’s Environmental Health Team have been working on an air quality project with schools over the last few months to raise awareness of the causes of air pollution and promote good practice in the hope that it will embed a cultural change which will benefit future generations. The event has seen more than 600 pupils attend over the 5 days which was made possible as a result of key partnership working.”
He added: “We are committed to becoming a carbon neutral authority and we are taking positive steps to support this change.”
Joseph Carter, Chair of Healthy Air Cymru said, “Air pollution poses a serious risk to public health, especially to vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and people who have a circulatory or lung condition. But with it being almost impossible to see, it’s easy to forget the day-to-day impact. In the same way that we find dirty water unacceptable, we need urgent action to prevent further damage to public health and the environment as a result of dirty air.”
“Clean Air Day is a great opportunity for us, alongside Welsh Government, to look at the positive changes we can all make to achieve the cleanest air possible. From travelling by foot or bike, to making smarter car journeys, there are many small changes we can make to improve our local air.”