Harrogate pupils' 'no idling' message to drivers in protest at level crossing

Pupils from a Harrogate school have staged a new protest as part of a long-running campaign against air pollution near their school.

By Graham Chalmers
Monday, 21st February 2022, 11:59 am
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 12:00 pm
Starbeck Primary School pupils and Starbeck Residents Association demonstration at the level crossing in Starbeck. (Picture Gerard Binks)
Starbeck Primary School pupils and Starbeck Residents Association demonstration at the level crossing in Starbeck. (Picture Gerard Binks)

The Year 5 class from Starbeck Primary Academy took part in a ‘No Idling’ campaign at the Starbeck railway level crossing alongside members and volunteers from the Starbeck Residents’ Association and Zero Carbon Harrogate.

Headteacher Garry de Castro-Morland said the event aimed to raise awareness among drivers on the congested Knaresborough Road that they should turn off their engines while stationary in queues.

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“Our school is situated close to the railway crossings and pupils and staff continue to be concerned about the levels of air pollution caused by queuing traffic twice hourly, that builds up in front of their school each time the crossings close. The children designed informative leaflets and posters to explain the impact of vehicle emissions from idling engines.”

It’s not the first time the school has voiced its concern over the environmental impact of traffic congestion near the level crossing.

In 2019 pupils took part in a similar event as part of a short ‘No Idling’ campaign launched by Zero Carbon Harrogate, a non-partisan independent pressure group supporting the push to reduce carbon emissions in the Harrogate district.

Reacting to public concern in the same year, North Yorkshire County Council erected “stationary vehicles switch off engines” signs on the Starbeck side of the railway level crossing

Stephen Scales, of ZCH, said: “It’s good to see that the local community are continuing to raise this issue with drivers. Sadly, it does need to be repeated over and over.”

Darren Leeming, Starbeck Residents’ Association Committee member, said: “We wanted to bring awareness to the drivers of vehicles waiting at the level crossing on the High Street in Starbeck to ‘turn off their engines’ to prevent not only pollution but to point out how they are harming the lives of children and parents walking to and from school.”

Mr de Castro-Morland added that the school is part of Northern Star Academies Trust whose schools share an active involvement in a sustainability agenda with ‘Green Ambassadors’ elected for each school.