Mark the action on clean air
21 June, 2018
• TODAY (Thursday June 21) is national Clean Air Day.
I aim to begin my day with parents in the Fitzjohns Avenue part of Hampstead to see first-hand the impact of the school run, creating congestion and polluted air; NW3 contains a high number of schools which see an above-average proportion of children travelling to school by car instead of walking, cycling or public transport.
Citizen science by Camden residents revealed how poor the air was in parts of Hampstead, which surprised some. As a result Camden Council is investing funding in a “Schools Low Emission Zone” in this part of the borough.
But there is a lot more to do and we want to establish many more “Healthy School Streets” across the borough.
Our exemplar schemes include keeping traffic away from St Joseph’s School in Covent Garden at drop-off and pick-up time. We have also invested in the roads outside Acland Burghley school to introduce a timed closure as well as widened pavements and easier crossings.
Earlier this year this council administration set itself the ambitious but necessary target of achieving World Health Organization air quality standards. Anything less means simply putting up with continued dirty air.
Keeping traffic away from schools and travelling in a greener way from an early age is an important part of this.
If you are a parent – or a pupil – then ask your school if they are on the STARS programme (www.stars.tfl.gov.uk), which encourages healthy travel.
Netley School in Regent’s Park last week shared with me how the number of children cycling to school has mushroomed from just a couple to 40.
Netley is very active on this front: it is also taking part in a new study with King’s College London to understand the impact of air pollution on children’s lung development.
But even while we await the results we know the health risks are real. Let’s act now to improve the health of all of us.
CLLR ADAM HARRISON
Cabinet Member for Improving Camden’s Environment