Green Party MEP attacks government’s ‘astonishing complacency’ over poor air quality in South East of England
Thousands of children are attending schools in South East England near polluted roads, a report published by a Green Party MEP has warned.
‘Polluted Playgrounds’, which was released by the Party yesterday (April 9), claims some 27,920 children of primary school age are attending schools in South East England within a 450 mile radius of the region’s busiest roads.
The report, which covers West Berkshire, East Sussex, West Sussex, Oxfordshire, Bracknell and Kent, compiles information from Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities across South East England.
The report estimates suggest that some 15-30% of new asthma cases may be attributed to traffic-related air pollution. Research carried out by King’s College London has shown that air pollution may also be associated with an increased risk of long-term loss of lung functionality in children.
It goes on to recommend that better transport planning should be used to reduce traffic congestion, and buildings with mechanical ventilation should use air filters complying with EU standard EN 13779.
Launching the report, the Green Party’s MEP for South East England and a clean air campaigner Keith Taylor accused government ministers of ‘astonishing complacency’ on air pollution, following serious smog which affected the region last week.
He said: “The last week has shown the Government’s astonishing complacency on air pollution. Despite 29,000 people dying every year because of toxic air, and the European Commission beginning legal proceedings against the UK, the Prime Minister had the audacity to blame last week’s smog entirely on Saharan Dust.
“Of course the smog that hit the UK last week was partly because of dust from the Sahara but it was hugely exacerbated by the unacceptably high levels of air pollution we have in our towns and cities.â€?
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said: “I awoke this morning to bright clear skies in London. But we mustn’t be fooled. The health-threatening nitrogen dioxide and small particulates are still there, being belched out by vehicles on our congested streets.
“Keith’s report is a reminder that up and down the country many millions in cities, towns and even villages are being subjected to high levels of this pollution, with particularly bad effects on our children. Once their lungs have been effected they will carry the effects for life; we have to act to end this health threat.”