200 London schools sign up to clean air audits

200 London schools in areas of high air pollution will sign up to a City Hall scheme that aims to protect pupils from toxic air.

The scheme involves clean air audits, carried out by engineering consultancy WSP, which assess the air quality before making recommendations to the school to improve air quality.

The scheme has already been trialled in 50 schools across 23 London boroughs. London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a £1m fund which provided each of the 50 schools with a £10,000 starter grant and enabled any of the other London schools located in areas exceeding legal air pollution limits to apply for green infrastructure funding. 

Five of London’s most polluted boroughs – Newham, Islington, Southwark, Westminster and Brent – have already signed up to the programme. Earlier this week, the mayor visited Salisbury Primary School in Newham, which received the £10,000 improvement fund following their audit in 2018.

With additional funding from Newham Council, the school has relocated their day care centre playground away from busy Romford Road, reducing the children’s exposure to harmful emissions.

Newham Council is now extending air quality audits to all primary and secondary schools in the borough as part of a long term air quality monitoring study. The monitoring will help target clean air initiatives which currently includes a School Streets programme and anti-idling campaigns. 

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: ‘London’s toxic air is directly harming the health of our children. Working with boroughs like Newham we are determined to do everything in our power to protect them and ensure future generations breathe cleaner, healthier air.

‘It’s wonderful to see Salisbury Primary School leading the way and transforming their environment into a safe, clean space for everyone. I’m delighted that other boroughs will be following their lead in expanding our innovative air quality audits to all state run schools.’

Last week, Hackney launched its 9th School Street in the borough at William Patten Primary School in Stoke Newington. 

It sees Lancell Street, part of Dumont Road and part of Dynevor Road closed to motor traffic at school opening and closing times, improving local air quality and making it easier for children to walk and cycle to school. 

The latest School Street is part of the council’s plans to roll-out the scheme to 17 primary schools by 2021 – a year ahead of its original 2022 target – and then expand it to all remaining primary schools in the borough.