Air Quality Awareness

‘Show the air you care’ 

Everyone has a role to play in having a positive impact on air quality in Cheshire East – and the council wants to inspire everyone to take simple actions to help reduce air pollution and limit its impact on people’s health.

Actions people should take to reduce air pollution include:

  • Give your car a day off – Walk, cycle or take public transport to work or school, or work from home if you can
  • Don’t idle – If you drive, turn off your engine when your vehicle is stationary and it is safe to do so
  • Discover the side streets – Use quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot to avoid polluted main roads
  • Go electric – There are lots of ways you can travel electric. Hire an electric car, taxi or test drive an electric vehicle
  • Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood or smokeless fuel on your stove, open fire or barbecue

Engine idling

Engine idling is the running of an engine when it is not required for:

  • driving of the vehicle or
  • examination of the engine or
  • operation of machinery e.g. operation of a tail lift

Vehicles idling while stationary cause unnecessary use of fuel, an increase in emissions and can also create a noisy environment, especially for residents and businesses. By not idling, you reduce the level of harmful emissions being released into the atmosphere and help to make our local environment cleaner and safer for everyone.

Engine Idling Myths

Myth: Turning the engine on and off wears it out/ Idling reduces wear and tear on the engine, particularly when cold.

This is not the case in modern cars; electronic ignitions have eliminated this problem. Idling actually increases wear and tear on the engine as it leads to incomplete fuel combustion and the build up of residues.  Idling causes damage to cylinders and the exhaust system.

Myth: The engine needs to stay on to keep the battery fully charged.

Batteries have evolved.  Modern batteries now need far less running time to retain their charge.

Myth: Idling is needed to keep the catalytic converter hot and working properly.

Catalytic convertors do need to be warm, but an idling engine does not achieve this.  The catalytic convertor will retain its heat for over 20 minutes after the engine is switched off.

Myth: Starting an engine uses more fuel and produces more pollution than idling.

The opposite is true.  This is the reason for the development of stop-start technology.

Myth: The best way to warm up a vehicle is to leave the engine running for a few minutes.

Modern engines do not need a lead in time to warm up before use.

Myth: When it's cold you need to keep the engine running to keep the car and passengers warm.

The car engine will stay warm for over half an hour.  To maintain heat through the fans you can turn the engine off but keep the ignition on.


The level of air pollution is currently a regular item on national and local media reports. Therefore, Cheshire East is currently looking at all options to try and educate and where possible change perceptions, with regards to air pollution. To help with this the air quality team have produced an education package for delivery in schools to raise awareness within Key Stage 2 (KS2) year groups, specifically years 5 and 6.

The aim of the education package is to educate children about air pollution and the effects it can have on health. It is hoped that this will enable the children to have a better understanding about the choices they make and the effects these can have on both the environment and health. We are currently looking at how best to deliver this package given the ongoing national situation.

Further information

Bikeability training is offered in schools to give children the skills they need to enjoy cycling from an early age. For information contact or visit

The Sustainable Modes of Travel to Schools (SMOTS) Strategy sets out the background for how Cheshire East, in collaboration with key delivery partners, will support schools to enable and encourage sustainable travel to and from schools. Funding is available to implement engineering measures on the highway network  and may include schemes such as:

  • Improvements to walking and cycling routes such as footpath or cycleway improvements;
  • New access points to schools sites which give more convenient and safer access for pedestrian and  cyclists;
  • Improved or new safe crossing points on routes to schools;
  • Small scale traffic management schemes e.g. lining, signing and traffic calming;
  • Improvements to parking in the vicinity of schools to provide a safer highway environment.

Modeshift STARS is an online resource that helps schools through the process of developing their own travel plan. This scheme promotes the active travel that is walking and cycling which in turn promotes clean air, healthier lifestyles and sustainable travel amongst other benefits.