GOVERNMENT cash for active travel is set to make walking and cycling to school a more popular choice among pupils.

At the National Walking Summit, on Tuesday, March 22, Trudy Harrison MP, under secretary of state for transport, announced £2.5m additional funding for active travel.

Of this grant, £2m will be given to Living Streets, a UK charity that promotes everyday walking and runs a walk to school outreach project.

The remaining £500,000 will go to Modeshift Stars, which encourages active travel among businesses and communities.

With Hampshire set to receive a share of the pot, it is hoped that schools will become safer at drop-off and pick-up times, while also helping the environment.

Gomer Junior School in Gosport was one of the pioneers of the Modeshift Stars scheme, becoming the first school in Hampshire to achieve the gold standard in 2018.

Executive headteacher Georgina Mulhall said: ‘Gomer Junior School signed up for Modeshift Stars in 2017 and has demonstrated best practice in the promotion of walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable travel for the journey to and from school.

‘As a consequence of this work, sustainable travel remains a priority and the majority of the school community cycle, scoot or walk to school. This is good for our  environment and for our health too.

‘Therefore, if we can multiply the efforts of Gomer and other schools around the country there would be a significant positive impact.’

A new active travel pilot, run in partnership with Modeshift and the Bikeability Trust, will support young people to become Active Travel Ambassadors as well as providing the skills and infrastructure to walk and cycle to school.

This could have an impact on Hampshire County Council’s school streets trial, as schools that become party of this scheme may not need the council’s support in ousting cars.

Stephen Edwards, interim chief executive of Living Streets, said: ‘We want every child who can walk to school to be able to do so. This funding is a step towards making that happen.

‘Walking rates to primary schools have declined rapidly within a generation. However, in schools where we run our walk to school challenge, the opposite is true.

‘We are excited to be working in partnership with Modeshift and Bikeability Trust to continue to help people change behaviours and develop healthy habits for life.‘