Council’s plans to tackle clean air met with criticism

Plans to combat air pollution in Sheffield have been met with criticism from one of the city’s Green Party councillors.

Coun Douglas Johnson has claimed that proposals to reduce bus emissions and create anti-idling zones outside schools were hyopcritical as there were simultaneous plans to increase the number of lanes on the inner Ring Road between Corporation Street & Savile Street.

He claimed that in 2012 and 2015, announcements had been made to tackle air quality but had failed, and a 2016 council report had admitted air quality had not improved in the city.

“There is little in the new clean air strategy that hasn’t been said before. There’s little reason to think that this is the bold new step that the city really needs,” he added.

The council strategy includes teaming up with bus companies in the city to reduce emissions, anti-idling zones around schools as well as encouraging people to walk and cycle.

There are an estimated 500 premature deaths caused by air pollution in Sheffield each year.

Waterthorpe Infant School, which has won the Sustainable Travel Accreditation and Recognition for Schools (Stars) award, has encouraged students and parents to walk or cycle to school instead.

Headteacher Helen Stokes said giving children an understanding of why it was important to “be green” had encouraged them to use alternative transport to cars, helping them win the award.