CleanAir4Schools is a collection of parents, clean air experts traffic experts and lawyers from numerous schools and nurseries in Stoke Newington. Our campaign team includes parents from St Mary's, William Patten, Grasmere, Newington Green Primary, Shacklewell Primary and Stoke Newington High School.
We have run numerous air quality campaigns, were guest speakers at the Unicef Air Quality Rally in Hyde Park and took our pleas for cleaner air at schools all the way to Parliament.
We are calling for an action plan for reducing pollution for Hackney’s children.
Children’s lungs are especially vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality. Exposure to high levels of air pollution can bring about asthma and seriously stunt lung growth. And yet we ask them to run around, breathing deeply, in playgrounds that are illegally-polluted. Collectively we owe them a better legacy of their schooldays.
This action plan should include:
A holistic plan for reducing pollution at the borough's most polluted schools and nurseries to be agreed urgently.
All of the borough’s schools and nurseries that are over the legal limit should have a pollution reduction plan agreed as a matter of urgency, which is shared with the school community, starting with the most polluted schools in the borough first.
Each school should be provided with a report clearly stating what monitoring has been carried out, which sections of the school site are likely to exceed the legal limit, how they reached that conclusion, and plans for reducing pollution and pupil exposure.
We’re calling on Hackney Council to publish a list of all schools that are over the legal limit, or near the legal limit for NO2. GLA has published a list of schools likely to be over the legal limit, but although Hackney has since challenged this, it has not publicly said which schools are over the legal limit, despite several requests from the Clean Air 4 Schools group for clarity on this issue.
We do not think that any plans, such as road closures, should be put in place if such a scheme is likely to cause a school (or schools) to experience even a transitory rise in air pollution. Reduce pollution in schools first, before rolling out any measures that risk worsening the problem of playground pollution.
Hackney Council to commit to assessing the impact of all traffic and construction schemes on nearby schools before the consultation stage, and ensuring all impacts are clearly communicated in an unbiased way in public consultation documents.
In a twelve-month period, two consultations that we know of went out to the public which would increase traffic past schools, where the Council had not considered the impact those schemes would have on schools.
Bus stops next to school playgrounds to be evaluated.
According to the GLA’s audit report of schools in the borough, buses cause as much as 44% of the pollution at schools on main roads. This have now decreased somewhat, as the bus fleet is cleaned up, but even with cleaner fleets, the acts of braking, idling and accelerating from bus stops all produce large amounts of emissions.
The Council should work with schools to evaluate whether bus stops by their site are creating pollution and with other bodies such as TFL to determine whether such bus stops could be relocated or removed.
A plan to be developed by the council, with involvement from the Stoke Newington community (traders, residents and schools), for improving air quality across the whole area, improving road safety and making the streets more liveable and pedestrian-friendly.
We want to see a plan for the whole area which tackles the most pressing issues, which we believe are:
Church st, Albion Rd and the High st are mostly over the legal limit for pollution, they are places where people live and work, and where almost all local children go to school and to nursery. These streets are the centre of the community.
These main roads are unsafe. Many families in Stoke Newington believe these streets are scary roads to walk down with young children, because there are high levels of road traffic, road users drive too fast, pavements are very narrow, lots of buses etc...
Rat-running on residential streets and what potential mitigation strategies exist.
We look forward to working with Hackney on their Ultra Low Emission Street plans for Church St, should they be successful in their planning application. We are aware that this could take several years to come to fruition, so we are eager for the Council to implement other mitigation strategies as a matter of urgency.
Road closure schemes to date have focussed on very small areas, were consulted on at different times, and don’t refer to each other (Walford Rd, A10 gyratory, Green Lanes (coming soon) to name a few). We need a holistic plan, and residents, traders and schools on main roads need to be engaged with by Hackney Council so that they can understand how all these schemes tie together, and what the time scales for implementation are.
Campaign wins / achievements
Representing Hackney Parents at the House of Commons. Members of the group represented Hackney parents at a Clean Air Parents Network event with MPs, arranged by Client Earth, and attended by many MPs including Ed Milliband. Although invited, unfortunately Diane Abbot was unable to attend. (PHOTO)
Speaking to Sadiq Kahn on BBC London radio and subsequently at clean air events at City Hall, to express concerns about bus stops outside school playgrounds. This resulted in discussions with our group, the GLA Head of Air Quality and TfL about possibilities for removing stops, which are still ongoing.
Petition for no more pollution at schools – we drummed up support from over 800 signatories from whole community in just four days – church, mosque, residents, schools – and presented our petition at the full council meeting in Feb 2018. As a result of our petition, Mayor Glanville pledged there would be: “no increases in pollution at schools in Hackney”.
Identifying that Hackney had put the wrong figure for the estimated traffic increase past schools in their Walford Road consultation. Their own data spreadsheets (which they sent to us on the final day of the consultation) estimated it at 30%, but in their consultation document they stated 5-7% increase. Six months after first emailing Hackney about it, they finally conceded they’d got it wrong and started new traffic modelling in July. Read this article: Fresh calls for a rethink after council admits getting traffic figures wrong.
Parents and children from the group attended the UNICEF Clean Air rally at Marble Arch in 2019. https://www.unicef.org.uk/press-releases/unicef-uk-hold-rallies-calling-for-an-end-to-illegal-levels-of-toxic-air
Who we are
The group was originally set up by a group of parents at William Patten school in Autumn 2016 to look at ways to reduce pollution at the school. As the years have gone by, many of the issues we are campaigning for will have an impact borough-wide, and so we became Clean Air for Schools and have joined forces with parents from other schools, including St Mary’s School, Grasmere, Stoke Newington High, Shacklewell Primary and Newington Green Primary.
Many children are also actively campaigning in the group, by producing posters, low pollution maps, taking part in protests, writing letters themselves to councillors and politicians (and getting a reply from the Mayor of London!) and telling their parents why they need to choose low pollution routes / not take the car.
Some of the things that we will be doing over the coming year include:
Talking to Cllr Burke and Mayor Philip Glanville about pressing pause on the road closures.
Campaigning for the ULEZ together with the Clean Air Parents Network, and pressing for further measures that would benefit the borough, e.g. road user pricing, expansion of EV parking points, school streets for schools in the area.
Working with children to produce no idling signage for parking areas outside schools / traffic queueing at junctions next to schools.
Continuing discussions with the GLA air quality team and TfL to look at options for moving bus stops outside schools. We are currently discussing with them how the needs of commuters in London should be weighed up against the needs of pupils at polluted schools (March 2019).
 Over annual mean of 40mg/m3