Pupils take steps to cleaner air

Pupils of Robert Douglas Memorial Primary School in Scone have been lending their voices to a national campaign to help clean up our air on the longest day of the year. Thursday 21 June is national Clean Air Day, which aims to raise awareness of the simple steps many of us can take to reduce air pollution in our local communities.

Most areas in Perth and Kinross are fortunate to be blessed with superbly clean air, but there are hotspots around congested roads where air quality is poor, and most of the pollution is caused by traffic. Cars, vans, buses and lorries are essential for many people's journeys and for our economy to function efficiently, yet no-one wants our streets to be dominated by traffic, nor be concerned about air quality. Despite being invisible, pollution particularly affects the very young and the very old, as well as those with health problems.  

Primary 5 pupils have been learning about air quality and how fewer cars benefit us all. They've also been finding out how diesel-electric hybrid buses work (and how they help reduce air pollution), thanks to a visit from a Stagecoach Service 7 bus. Pupils and their families have also been encouraged to use alternatives to the car to school and other regular journeys around Perth.  

Councillor Angus Forbes, Convener of Environment & Infrastructure for Perth & Kinross Council, said "It's great to see young people getting involved at an early stage in thinking about the environment. The work they have done today helps us all remember how important it is to reduce pollution, especially for the children's health, and they have some inspiring ideas about how we can tackle this problem.

"The Council is working hard to reduce air pollution through a wide range of measures. The Perth City Plan sets out ambitions for Perth to be an accessible city that encourages active travel and reduces car dependency; the opening of Cross Tay Link Road in 2023 will help alleviate congestion, and delivery of the recently-approved Active Travel Strategy will improve conditions for those wishing to walk and cycle. Work is ongoing in nurseries and schools to teach pupils essential cycling skills they'll have for life, and the On the Go programme is working to raise awareness of travel options for local journeys. 

"But there's only so much that the Council can do and so it's up to all of us that drive in Perth and Kinross to do our bit to reduce air pollution, not just on Clean Air Day, but as often as we possibly can."

Louise Simpson, Operations Manager, Stagecoach East Scotland, based at the company's Perth depot, said: "We are delighted to be at RDM today, the latest of dozens of such sessions in Perth where we brought our buses along to show pupils that there can be quality, comfortable and environmentally-friendly ways to travel.  We have a great network of frequent bus services across Perth and to many places beyond, and are particularly proud of the Stagecoach Gold Service 7. This was one of the first services in the UK using electric hybrid vehicles, which have been operating since 2012, proving a low-emission choice for journeys between Scone and Broxden P&R, via the city centre. We encourage anyone who's not used a bus in a long while to give it a try."

The work at RDM Primary School is part of the On the Go campaign. This seeks to highlight that, for many journeys, as well as being cheaper, different transport choices don't always take longer. For the shortest journeys, walking and cycling can be as quick, if not quicker, than driving. Going by bus can be a good option for longer journeys, and often cheaper than driving; Perth has an excellent public transport network.

Anyone who drives in or around Perth is encouraged to visit the On the Go webpage to get lots of advice about how to save time, money and hassle while they travel.