Pupils in Saffron Walden have been encouraging drivers not to idle and measuring pollution levels as part of a town-wide clean air project.

Year 6 students at St Mary's School hosted an anti-idling event with sustainable travel consultants MP Smarter Travel and Uttlesford District Council's climate change team.

Saffron Walden Reporter: St Mary's pupils spoke to drivers about the dangers of idlingSt Mary's pupils spoke to drivers about the dangers of idling (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

After attending a briefing about the perils of idling - which increases the amount of harmful exhaust fumes in the air - pupils spoke to drivers who were idling outside the school and thanked others for switching off their engines.

Pupils Maisy, Fraser, Logan and Harlee May said: "Luckily, a large number of drivers had switched their engines off – but many had not!

"We learnt about idling and how it is bad for school children as well as members of the public, particularly those who live in houses close by.

"We learnt that idling pollutes the environment, can make asthma worse and will negatively affect children's lungs. Also, leaving the engine running burns unnecessary amounts of fuel."

Meanwhile, Year 5 and 6 pupils at Dame Bradbury's Junior School have been recording and analysing air quality at various locations throughout Saffron Walden.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Children from Dame Bradbury's Junior School measuring air qualityChildren from Dame Bradbury's Junior School measuring air quality (Image: Dame Bradbury's Junior School)

Teams of children were given 'plume flow' air quality monitoring devices to try out in different areas, helping them to understand the causes of air pollution and the small changes needed to help reduce it.

Catriona Debnam-Sharp, the teacher leading the project, said: "Air quality is an issue that affects everyone in our community so it’s really important that the next generation is armed with the knowledge and skills to tackle the problem.

"The children have loved using their monitors in all kinds of different situations and we now have data from across the town, as well as further afield.


"The pupils were so excited about their monitors that some took them along when venturing as far as Chelmsford, Cambridge and even Lapland."

The Saffron Walden Clean Air Project is a government-funded campaign that aims to increase awareness about the sources of air pollution.

Schools are receiving ongoing support to facilitate more walking and cycling, along with assemblies about the impacts of air pollution.