Air quality monitoring devices to be installed near Ealing’s schools

Image above: School zone sign in Ealing

98% of schools in London in areas exceeding WHO pollution limits

Air quality monitoring devices are to be installed around near schools in Ealing borough to gather data which, the council says, will help reduce harmful pollution.

Almost £240,000 is being invested in the equipment with grant funding from the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The funding will also help strengthen the council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), which is currently being developed in partnership with residents to reduce air pollution and improve health.

The investment will also support educational programmes for pupils, teachers and parents, which will focus on the impact of air pollution and traffic congestion on health and highlight how positive actions such as walking, cycling and scooting on the school run can result in cleaner air.

It is estimated that 3.1 million children in England go to school in areas where there are toxic levels of air pollution. In 2021, 98% of schools in London were found to be in areas exceeding World Health Organisation pollution limits, compared to 24% outside London.

How best to improve air quality and reduce congestion in Ealing has been the subject of a bitterly fought battle, with the council putting in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and then ripping them out again because of the amount of protest from residents. After a change of leader the council has vowed to take the public with them in whatever policies they put in place to tackle the issue.

Image above: Ealing Council, Cllr Dierdre Costigan

Dirty air around schools “a serious concern for every family”

Cllr Deirdre Costigan, cabinet member for climate action said:

“London’s air pollution can be fatal and tragically it contributed to up to more than 4,000 deaths across the capital in 2019 alone. Dirty air around our schools is rightly a serious concern for every family.

“That is why tackling air pollution is one of the council’s top priorities and I am delighted that we have secured this investment, which will go straight into educational and ​monitoring equipment in our schools and education on how to reduce pollution on the school run.

“Added to this we will shortly be consulting with residents on our new Air Quality Strategy and action plan so they can have their say and help us make it successful”.

Cllr Costigan added:

“Even a small vehicle running on petrol, can emit an average of more than 19 grams of CO2 a minute when its engine is on. It all adds up to a polluting cocktail filling the air we breathe”.

Image above: map of early deaths in London attributable to pollution 

“School streets means cleaner air”

A total of 17 School Streets are now in place across Ealing borough with more on their way. The council say this is part of their ongoing commitment to cut air pollution and support active forms of travel for children.

School Streets work by temporary closing roads to traffic around a school at its opening and closing times. The council says they make areas around schools safer and more pleasant places for children to walk, cycle and scoot, and give parents the perfect opportunity to ditch the car on the school run.

Cllr Costigan continued:

“We are investing £500,000 in the programme and our 17 current School Streets already benefit more than 8,000 pupils across the borough. But we want to do much more – so our target is 50 School Streets by 2026, which means we hope to deliver at least four new School Streets every six months.

“As well as cleaner air at the school gates, there is overwhelming evidence that active forms of travel have a hugely positive effect on pupils, both for physical and mental wellbeing, as well as on learning in the classroom.”

The £237,502 funding comes from the government’s department of environment, farming and rural affairs (DEFRA).

The council is also backing an ongoing, city-wide anti-idling campaign aimed at reducing the amount of unnecessary time people spend leaving their engines on.

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