The Lambeth Green party has written to 63 schools in the borough with serious concerns about the risks of high road pollution to local schoolchildren.
The action comes after Lambeth council refused to contact schools about the risk of Lambeth’s air quality, and claims by the Green party that Lambeth council deleted references from a council motion – tabled by the Green party – to an estimated 100 deaths linked to pollution.
The schools contacted lie close to busy roads and waste incinerators – Green party and London Assembly member Jenny Jones has created a map showing primary schools at risk of high pollution from road traffic, and called on mayor Boris Johnson to urgently review his air pollution policies.
Green party convenor Jonathan Bartley, who wrote to the 63 Lambeth schools, said: “Children are one of the groups most at risk from polluted air, particularly those with asthma or pre-existing lung conditions. Lambeth council are not taking their responsibility seriously.
Labour has deliberately withheld important information from residents about air quality and the risk that pollution poses to children at Lambeth schools. The Council should be informing schools about the risks that children face.”
London has some of the worst air pollution in Europe, and Lambeth is one of four London councils – with Camden, Hackney, and Southwark – to call for an expanded ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) to be introduced in central London sooner than 2020.
“We measured air quality in side streets around Brixton,” Bartley added, “and found pollutants 100m down side streets running at about 90% of the levels on the main road.”
Greens are pushing for more action to tackle poor air quality in London, such as 20mph limits to smooth traffic flow, large scale ‘greening’ initiatives and low-emission buses on key routes – the Party has also supplied schools with information about where they can get free air quality monitors.
A recent report by Air Quality News detailed criticisms of Johnson by the London Assembly (LA), who accuse the mayor of an “abject failure to tackle the biggest environmental challenges facing London.”
The LA – responsible for holding the mayor to account – is “disappointed” with his environmental policies, and said: “on every single issue from air pollution to carbon reduction and decentralised energy, the Assembly is appalled by the toxic environmental legacy the Mayor will leave Londoners.”
Lambeth cabinet member for environment and sustainability, Jenny Braithwaite, told the Blog that the council has been working closely with Transport for London to monitor air quality.
She added:”We applied for Cleaner Air status and are now bidding for funds from the Greater London Authority to help local schools and communities to take forward projects that they know will help tackle the most polluted parts of their neighbourhoods.
“The biggest single thing we could all do is to ease traffic congestion. That’s why Lambeth is introducing a 20mph speed limit across the borough. I will continue to fight for cleaner air in our borough and would welcome support from the Greens on an issue that matters to us all.”
You can keep an eye on air quality and pollution updates at the King’s College research site.