Two Northern Ireland councils have joined forces to tackle air pollution through a campaign which focuses on the dangers of ‘engine idling’ near schools.

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) is working alongside Ards and North Down Borough Council to Prevent the Cough by educating students, parents and the general public on the dangers of keeping their vehicle engines idling in and around schools.

Eight primary schools in both Council areas taking part in the initiative have been provided with educational materials and resource packs to help them develop their own ‘no idling’ projects, including signs to showcase around the school.

Councillor Martin Gregg, Chair of LCCC’s Environmental Services Committee said: “It is important that we all play our part in helping the environment and one way of doing this is to ensure good air quality.

“Harmful gases can be released through ‘engine idling’ - which is when your vehicle engine is running but you’re not moving for more than 10-20 seconds.

“It’s not only harmful to the environment but can have serious health consequences - particularly for vulnerable people in our society such as children, older residents and those with other underlying health issues.

Jonny Harper, Head of Wallace High School Preparatory Department in Lisburn said: “Schools are safe places where we want to ensure the best for future generations - and that includes their health and wellbeing.

“We hope that this campaign will not only result in an improvement to the air quality around our school - but that it will also provide pupils with an increased understanding of the world around them. An added benefit is that the resource pack helps develop skills such as language, literacy and mathematics.”

Councillor Scott Carson, Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council said: “One of my key aims as Mayor is to show support for as many local young people and schools as possible.

“I am supporting Prevent the Cough as it is another valuable way that we as a Council can engage with and support schools to educate our young people. 

“This campaign will help to raise everyone’s awareness of engine idling. By walking or cycling to school, we can improve our health through exercise and at the same time limit air pollution and lower greenhouse gases. It is important that we all do our bit to tackle the problem.”

The project is part-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

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