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.