Cornwall Council and partners are working with students at Mounts Bay Academy on a project aimed at reducing vehicle idling at school pick up and drop off times.

The council, along with health colleagues, Penzance Town Council and Sustrans – the walking, wheeling and cycling charity – are currently working with a number of schools to target high levels of vehicle idling which can have a negative impact on local air quality.

A team of 23 students from Mounts Bay Academy have been selected to come up with different ways of trying to reduce the number of vehicles idling around the school, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up times, and encourage parents and pupils to consider more environmentally friendly ways of getting to and from school.

A recent survey completed by Mounts Bay Academy pupils highlighted that the most popular way of getting to school was by bus (41%) followed by car (34%). Some 21 per cent of students said they walked to school. 

The survey also highlighted that 55 per cent of students said they notice cars and buses waiting with their engines running outside the school all the time.

Throughout the pilot scheme, which is being led by the council’s air quality team, the air quality outside the school is being continuously monitored, to measure the impact of the student-led campaign at reducing vehicle idling and increasing active travel.

Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for environment and climate change at Cornwall Council, said: “We know that an idling vehicle produces 150 balloons of harmful toxins every minute which causes a risk to health, especially for children, the elderly and residents with existing health conditions.

“If we can encourage students to walk, cycle, skate or scoot to school, even just for a part of their journey, it could make a big difference. It’s a healthier choice for them and it’s a healthier choice for Cornwall and the planet.

“I’m really excited to hear what ideas the students come up with as part of their initiatives.”

Les Hall, principal at Mounts Bay Academy, said: “We all need to be aware of the impact that we have on our environment so that we can reduce the harm that we are doing to the planet and ourselves. This project is one of many ways that we seek to improve our community, our school and our world.”