London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced the first of 50 air quality audits for primary schools in the worst polluted areas in the capital in a bid to protect children from toxic air.
The audits are funded by £250,000 from the mayor’s Air Quality Fund and will identify “hard-hitting measures” to protect pupils’ health from toxic air.
They will also examine new ways to lower emissions and exposure to pollution in and around schools.
The audits will be completed by the end of the year, with reports ready for March 2018.
It is expected that audit recommendations could include: moving school entrances and play areas away from busy roads; ‘no engine idling’ schemes; changes to local roads, including improved road layouts and pedestrianisation around school entrances; green infrastructure such as ‘barrier bushes’ along busy roads and in playgrounds to filter toxic fumes; and improvements to encourage walking and cycling to school along less polluted routes.
The 50 schools to be audited are part of a pilot, which if successful, the mayor hopes boroughs will take the lead and audit every school located in an area of high pollution.
Khan said: “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.”