New research confirms that a number schools in Merton are less than 150m away from roads with dangerously high levels of pollution.
Children’s health could be seriously affected, according to the research by ClientEarth – an environmental charity that successfully brought a legal action against the Government for breaking clean air laws.
Studies have shown that the health of children living within 150m of illegally polluted roads can be affected by traffic-related air pollution.
“The evidence shows that air pollution has links to various health conditions and shorter life expectancy,” said local parent and campaigner Anthony Fairclough.
“Cutting air pollution isn’t just an environmental issue: it’s vital for people’s health. Even more worrying is that this research only looked at schools – I have a toddler – there are numerous nurseries, playschools and playgrounds near these roads too.”
Roads with "illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide"
Local roads that are the worst offenders are the A3, near Raynes Park High and Sacred Heart Primary, Kingston Road near South Wimbledon and the main roads into and through Mitcham – with some of London’s highest levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant causing problems like asthma.
ClientEarth’s Poisoned Playgrounds report allows parents to see air pollution levels near their child’s school at www.clientearth.org/poisoned-playgrounds.
Calls for actual air quality strategy
Local Lib Dems are pushing for an ambitious local strategy to help tackle air pollution. Air quality campaigner Richard Hackforth-Jones said, "Merton Council and the Mayor of London need to start taking pollution seriously. We can start by limiting the number of high polluting HGVs travelling through the borough. Furthermore, we should be ensuring that we have a borough and London-wide electric vehicles strategy that considers the infrastructure challenges and encourages drivers to reduce emissions now, rather than at some point in the 2030s."
The Liberal Democrats are calling for more to be done nationally to address this issue. Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “Pollution is a silent killer that the government has itself been silent on for far too long. We need a radical plan for tackling pollution in the UK, and we should be working with industrialising nations to share cost-effective ways of reducing pollution overseas".
According to ClientEarth's research, the Merton schools/educational establishments less than 150m from an illegally polluted road include:
Benedict Primary School (51m)
Cricket Green School (24m)
Eagle House School (50m)
Face Youth Therapeutic School (23m)
Park Community School (41m)
Pelham Primary School (140m)
Raynes Park High School (88m)
RISE Education (117m)
St Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School (144m)
St Mark's Primary School (142m)
Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School (140m)
Singlegate Primary School (112m)