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Action group open Green Route to avoid traffic pollution

A Manchester-based campaign group called Ardwick Climate Action have launched a Green Route to guide residents through the neighbourhood via a series of green sites, relatively protected from the surrounding traffic.

Ardwick sits on the edge of the city centre. The constantly busy A6 slices through it and the Bee Network’s cycle lanes haven’t made it out here yet. 

Pupils from Medlock Primary School unveil the sign

Ardwick Climate Action (ACA) began to coalesce as a force in 2021 but they made the headlines late in 2022 when, with the co-operation of the council and with the University of Manchester by their side, they closed the A6 for two hours. 

The University explain their involvement: ‘On the day, many different environmentally conscious groups came together including ourselves to provide real-time monitoring of various pollutants and to inform the public of the numerous associated health impacts.

‘We used a black carbon monitor, personal pollution sensors, and a Purple Air monitor, to assess how pollution concentration changed both before and after the road was closed. Activities and information about the immune response to pollution were also provided for the local school children and families.’

Read their subsequent report here

The University has worked with ACA since the road closure, one of the researchers being Prof. Sheena Cruickshank who said prior to yesterday’s event: ‘Collaborative working between local communities and our researchers was vital to understand the barriers for active travel and the issues that most impacted residents.

‘By engaging with communities we can promote awareness of the risks of pollution to health and do more meaningful research that best meets the needs of those most impacted by pollution.

‘This research highlighted real issues encountered by residents of high levels of pollution and dangerous roads with fast moving traffic. There is a lack of crossings across busy roads which makes it very hard for residents to get around safely.

‘We are so excited about the green route and we really hope it makes a difference to residents for their health and wellbeing as they can avoid some of the traffic and pollution and enjoy the incredible biodiversity created by the planting done by ACA.’

Prof. Sheena Cruickshank speaking at the launch

ACA was founded by Choel Cartwright, a local resident who had been campaigning for Ardwick for over 15 years and Gordon Flear. Daniell Musaheb came on board around the time of the A6 closure and was front and centre at the launch of the Green Route.

The idea behind the Green Route (aka Ardwick Stepping Stones) was to establish connected green spaces between the city centre and the University of Manchester, ‘creating new and improved habits for nature and people.’ 

The team found nine sites suitable for transforming into natural refuges and set to work. The Kale Street site was the first that ACA got to work on and it was here that the launch took place. Spades were handed out and lavender was planted. Prior to this, 30 other species had already been planted along with a fruit orchard, which should produce consumable fruit by 2025/26.

Daniell Musaheb and Cllr Amna Abdullatif

All the sites on the route have a sign giving information about that particular location along with a QR code which gives more information and points the  way to the next stop. A map also assists in this.

The launch was attended by representatives of many interested parties. Clean Cities, Mums for Lungs, Asthma & Lung UK and Friends of the Earth were all present as Prof. Sheena Cruickshank spoke about the air quality issues in this part of Manchester and in deprived areas generally. Cllr Amna Abdullatif, the independent councillor for Ardwick. also spoke and was followed by children from the neighboring Medlock Primary School read letters they had written to the mayor Andy Burnham.

The unveiling of the sign was followed by a leisurely walk around the route marking, not the end of the project, but an important staging post in it. We look forward to watching these sites mature over time.

Clean Cities’ Sarah Rowe and Liz Godfrey from Mums for Lungs

Maddy Dawe, regional campaigns and policy officer at Asthma + Lung UK.

Planting lavender at the launch event



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