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Secondary schools support Wiltshire to tackle climate change

Five Wiltshire secondary schools took part in a special conference at County Hall which was held to help raise awareness of the impact of transport on climate change.

Published 16 March 2023

Five Wiltshire secondary schools took part in a special conference at County Hall on Monday 13 March 2023, which was held to help raise awareness of the impact of transport on climate change.

Wiltshire Council worked with cycling, wheeling and walking charity, Sustrans, to host Wiltshire's Climate Change Active Travel Conference. Pupils attended from Clarendon Academy, Trowbridge, St Laurence, Bradford on Avon, Melksham Oak Community School, Abbeyfield School and Hardenhuish School, both in Chippenham. The pupils took part in a series of workshops to identify barriers to walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting, and the pupils developed solutions to overcome them and devised their own bespoke action plan for their schools.

Once back at school, the aim is for the pupils to set up and run activities, initiatives and events to support their fellow pupils and school staff to make changes. This will include travelling actively by walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting where possible, rather than using the car.

The pupils were welcomed to the conference by Cllr Caroline Thomas, Wiltshire Council's Cabinet Member for Transport, and Sarah Valdus, Director of Environment at Wiltshire Council. Paul Turner from the Ministry of Eco-education was a guest speaker at the event and he explored the topic of how by reclaiming power through everyday positive action, people can choose a sustainable future.

Cllr Caroline Thomas said: "It was fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and passion among the pupils who attended our conference. They are clearly determined to help make changes among their own school communities and we thank them for their efforts.

"As well as our commitments to climate change, our Business Plan is clear that we want Wiltshire to have vibrant well-connected communities, and that means we need to help build efficient and effective transport network, including viable alternatives to the car. The active travel work we are doing will help and more events like our conference will provide the knowledge, enthusiasm and necessary tools to make meaningful and lasting change."

The council has also been developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) to improve cycling and walking opportunities throughout the county, in close partnership with town councils. In Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon, cycling and walking schemes have been completed to make routes safer and easier for children to walk or cycle to school. The council has also completed traffic-free routes between Hilperton and Melksham, and between Chippenham and Corsham to encourage more people to leave their cars at home. On 17 March Wiltshire Council confirmed it had also submitted a bid to Active Travel England (ATE) for funds to support further walking and wheeling routes in the county. ATE looks to fund active travel infrastructure that promotes walking, wheeling and cycling as an alternative to taking the car. More information can be found at Wiltshire Council bids for Government funding for new walking and cycling routes.

During a recent peer review challenge by the Local Government Association, it was stated that "The council (Wiltshire Council) is excelling in work to address climate change - the council's work to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change is impressive, with many activities that would be considered exceptional in other organisations being seen very much as the 'day job'."

The burning of fossil fuels, like petrol and diesel, is the largest contributing factor to climate change. Transport is the number one sector that creates greenhouse gases, which cause climate change. It is responsible for nearly a quarter[1] of the UK's total emissions, and in Wiltshire transport contributes 33% of the county's greenhouse gas emissions (reference - Anthesis report on the council website Wiltshire Council Climate Strategy (opens new window). Cars alone produce 52% of transport emissions within the UK. It is estimated that one in four cars on the road during the morning peak times are doing the school run. By helping to reduce the number of car journeys to school, this project will help the schools reduce their carbon footprint, as well as supporting the council's commitment to make its own operations carbon neutral by 2030 and its ambition to make the whole county of Wilshire carbon neutral.

More information about climate change, and what people can do to make a positive difference, can be found at Climate change.

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