Just over £700,000 of additional government funding cold be spent by Wiltshire Council on rural play areas and an air quality research project.

The money would be sourced from £4.526 million of extra government funding, of which Wiltshire Council received confirmation shortly before the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, February 6.

The project would involve using £100,000 of this money to purchase hundreds of sensors designed to monitor air quality across the entirety of the county.

In the meeting, Nick Holder, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “This is something that we’ve been exploring in conjunction with some UK universities and the clean air programme to provide academic input and support into a new and innovative way of trying to understand the reality of the particulate emissions across the county-wide area.

“This will provide us with a meaningful baseline from which we can work with the academic researchers and understand if there actually is a problem indicative through empirical information rather than, in some cases, supposition.

“That might potentially enable us to argue more forcefully with central government for mitigation to improve the air quality across the whole of the county.”

It is hoped the project would aid with what was described as “a lack of information on air quality in rural areas.”

Meanwhile, £3.798 million of the government funding is a grant reserved for the social care sector and must be spent as such, rather than placed in reserves or used elsewhere.

According to the council, it will allow additional preventative social care work in areas identified to be of highest risk.

Another £603,000 of the money would be spent on “vitally needed” rural play area replacements and refurbishments.

Councillor Nick Botterill, cabinet member for finance, said: “We can’t underestimate the importance of children having play equipment, being able to be active.”

Leader of the council Richard Clewer said: “We have areas where we’ve got rural communities with small pockets of deprivation and where this play area problem is particularly acute.”

He later explained that given the funding was a “one-off” with no guarantee the next budget, it would be “foolish” to invest it in anything that involved ongoing revenue expenditure.

Further details of the suggested projects and spending are set to be revealed when the budget proposals face scrutiny at the council meeting on Tuesday, February 20.