Cleaning Britain’s air ‘in the highest public interest’

07.53 | 10 May 2019 | | 10 comments

Image: Living Streets

A national newspaper is calling for a temporary traffic ban outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

On 9 May, the Times launched its ‘Clean Air For All’ campaign – on the back of an investigation revealing millions of British children attend schools where there are dangerous levels of air pollution.

The Times investigation shows approximately 6,500 schools with around 2.6m pupils are located in areas where fine particles in the air exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit of 10mcg per cubic metre.

As part of the campaign, The Times is urging authorities to ban all vehicles, except buses, from roads beside schools for 45-60 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon.

As well as improving air quality, The Times says the move would encourage more children to walk to school, and reduce the number of collisions.

The walking charity Living Streets is supporting the call for a ban, saying that by walking to school, families become part of the solution to the air pollution problem.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets, said: “A quarter of cars on our roads at peak times are on the school run.

“Closing school streets to traffic and encouraging families to walk to school would have an incredibly positive impact on the air our children breathe.”

The campaign manifesto also calls on the Government to bring forward the ban on sales of new diesel and petrol cars from 2040 to 2030 – and to reverse the cut to the plug-in car grant scheme.

The changes, announced in October 2018, mean the grant for Category 1 vehicles – broadly those that are pure battery electric – has been reduced from £4,500 to £3,500.

In addition, Category 2 and 3 vehicles – mainly plug-in hybrids – are no longer eligible for a grant.

John Witherow, editor of The Times, said: “The Times has a proud history of campaigning journalism. We are not just reporting on change, we are providing solutions and fighting to make a difference.

“Cleaning Britain’s air is in the highest public interest.”



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Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Do they want school crossing patrols out of a job? They do a good job & suffer from air pollution too but no one gives them a second thought.

    H, Griffin, Leeds
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Through the availability of “parental choice of schools” for their children, we now have the common situation of children being driven past several local perfectly suitable primary schools to arrive at the “school of the parent’s choice” (assuming they were fortunate enough to have their choice).

    Perhaps for health & wellbeing, active travel, reducing air pollution etc etc it is time to review the “parental choice of schools” model as some of the political goalposts seemed to have moved?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Thanks fort the post Sylvia. Good to hear some factual information to help address people’s concerns from earlier posts. Great that the schemes are tailored on an individual basis to adapt to local needs. I am looking forward to seeing how this initiative can develop and potentially be implemented across many schools in the country to help improve health in general and remove health inequalities.

    Without being brave enough to change the way we do things we risk missing out on big improvements in health. Interesting comments about buses. It does seem that many older buses and coaches are used on the school run. The fleet is getting better overall but how long before we can see electric buses joining the fleet – or as an alternative can education/planning evolve such that there is no general need to travel by bus to get to a school in urban areas?

    Nick Hughes, Preston
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It’s worth noting that these schemes are done with the collaboration and involvement of the school and the residents, together. It’s a process and those groups are engaged throughout and consulted upon before, during and after the trial period. The level of restriction is decided collectively and on a one to one school basis. In some streets, tradesmen will be allowed, in other, residents will be exempt (via a simple online registration), in others residents will only be able to exit but not come in. This is one solution to the traffic chaos we all experience during the schoolrun. It’s a clever tool in that sense that it adapts to the specific circumtances and layout on that street.

    Sylvia, London
    Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

    On the general subject of air pollution caused by motor vehicles, if people are bothered by air pollution, why do I see drivers in stationary or slow-moving traffic queues with their engines running and their windows open? Whilst air pollution can be measured, it isn’t so easily sensed and/or we become immune to it.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    As someone who lives on the same road as a primary school as I am intrigued to know how this would work. The road I live on also links to 4 smaller roads, would all need to be closed? How would it work for staff getting in and out of school? Not all of them arrive an hour before school starts. Would the ban allow resident access and school staff access? Who enforces the rule? The school keep clear markings do not even have a TRO on them!

    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    During the journey to work today, I realised that I passed by two schools at times which may be relevant to this campaign.

    One in town, one in a village in the middle of nowhere.

    My commute of nearly 26 miles would be increased by about one and a half miles. That’s an extra 720 or so miles a year. Now imagine everyone else doing the same.

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    It seems perverse to exclude buses from any ban, which are typically the oldest and smokiest and most polluting vehicles on our roads – with their old-tech diesel engines emitting huge amounts of particulates.

    It would make more sense to base a measure claimed to be aimed at reducing air pollution, on reducing the use of dirty vehicles such as buses, and encouraging the use of really clean vehicles such as those attaining an “A” rating in the new AIR Index ( system.

    Charles, Wells
    Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

    > As part of the campaign, The Times is urging authorities to ban all vehicles, except buses, from roads beside schools for 45-60 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon.

    What about residents who live opposite schools?

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (11) | Disagree (1)

    Not commenting on the validity or otherwise of the campaigning initiative itself but thinking practically….It is pretty infrequent to see a policeman around here in this part of Wales at school start and finish times unless there is an emergency, so who would enforce the ban if it is a moving traffic violation? Or is someone thinking that Councils will put physical barriers across the road twice a day? No chance of the latter purely on costs alone.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (13) | Disagree (1)

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