Comment from our Chairman: Sign up your schools for the air quality scheme

Although Ella’s Law has not been passed, we are still working to protect children’s health through the Education Working Party. I encourage everyone to get involved with independent projects such as SAMHE, which aims to provide all schools with a free air quality monitor, writes our Chairman Barry Sheerman MP.

This year, in Parliament, I have presented several Bills that would drastically increase air quality across our country. My Motor Vehicle Tests (Diesel Particulate Filters) Bill would improve the MOT test and introduce PN-PTI testing. I am thrilled that the recent Department for Transport consultation on the MOT test, including reference to PN-PTI testing, is proving that the issue is very much on the Government’s radar. Furthermore, I have also presented the Air Pollution (Local Authority Audits) Bill and the Tyre Manufacture (Toxic Chemicals) Bill to Parliament, and they are due for a Second Reading on 24 November 2023. 

Regretfully, Ella’s Law (officially known as the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill) was objected to by a member of the Government alongside a raft of other Private Member’s Bills. This is incredibly common with Bills brought by individual MPs rather than the Government. As I often say, I have only had one successful Bill go through Parliament since 1979 and getting a Bill fully over the line is an arduous process. However, like the Bills I have presented to the House of Commons, Ella’s Law remains ready to be debated, and we should all use these Bills as the foundation of our campaigns for clean air.

Away from Parliament, it was a pleasure to see so many of you at the Fleet Vision International Awards Dinner and at OWL Wales. These events are crucial in bringing together like-minded people and celebrating the great work you all do to improve air quality across our country and beyond. 

As the MP for Huddersfield, I care deeply about the impacts of air pollution on the health of my constituents, particularly the youngest members of the community, who are more susceptible to negative impacts because their bodies and organs are still developing. I was recently informed of a project called SAMHE (Schools’ Air Quality Monitoring for Health and Education), which aims to provide all schools with a free air quality monitor and provides curriculum-oriented materials that can be used in lessons with the real-time data provided by the air quality monitor. 

I immediately sent letters to every school in my constituency to encourage them to sign up. I also encourage you to write to your MP to ask them if they will help get their schools involved or if you have children at school, get them to sign their school! By taking advantage of schemes such as this, we can move ever closer to making the right to breathe clean air a reality. 

Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, Chair of WCRAQ