The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced funding for 50 ‘air quality audits’ for primary schools in some of the worst polluted areas in London to help protect children from toxic air in the capital.
The audits – which are being funded using £250,000 from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and conducted by global engineering consultancy WSP – will identify measures to protect pupils’ health from air pollution.
They will also examine new ways to lower emissions and exposure to pollution in and around schools, the Mayor’s Office has said.
The audits will be complete by the end of 2017, with reports to be compiled by March 2018.
The 50 schools to be audited are part of a pilot, and could be rolled out to more schools by London borough councils.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is shameful that children across London are breathing in toxic air simply by going to and from school and I am determined to do everything in my power to safeguard their health.
“These air quality audits are a big step towards helping some of the most polluted schools in London identify effective solutions to protect pupils from toxic fumes but, of course, this is only part of the solution.
“Next month, I will be launching my T-charge to rid central London of the oldest, most polluting vehicles and before the end of the year I will be announcing a decision on my plans to bring forward and extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone along some of our busiest roads.
“We are making great strides in London but I can’t do this alone. The government must match my ambition in tackling the biggest public health emergency of a generation.â€?
Andrew Boyes, Headteacher at Prior Weston Primary School, where the Mayor announced the measure this morning, said: “Prior Weston Primary School is delighted to be included in the Mayor’s Air Quality Audit. It is a great opportunity for our children to learn more about environmental issues that impact directly on their lives and to make a substantial difference to key pollution issues that affect everyone in our local community.
“It is great for the children to be able to apply their maths, science and communication skills through such a meaningful and worthwhile project. The children are really excited to meet the Mayor and to start making a difference to air quality in London.â€?
Consultants WSP will work with each of the 50 polluted schools for a better understanding of air quality in and around the school, analyse travel behaviour, identify walking routes and prioritise local needs before making recommendations. The emphasis will be on lower cost interventions as far as possible, for example planting and no-idling schemes.
The audits will also identify and recommend larger-scale infrastructure improvements to be delivered in partnership with the local borough, for example improved road layouts and pedestrianisation.
Glenn Higgs, Associate Director at WSP, said: “Air quality in London is a major challenge and we need to better understand what causes it at a local level. The audits will enable us to recommend the best steps to reduce air pollution for the benefit of schoolchildren and their community.
“WSP works with local authorities across the UK on air quality and we hope that this audit will provide inspiration to others to best understand how they can reduce pollution levels.â€?