Parents say denial of air pollution level at school risks children’s health

Children and parents campaign for cleaner air.

Children and parents campaign for cleaner air. Pic: Stokey Parents.

Parents of children at a Stoke Newington primary school say they are appalled at a councillor for denying that pollution in their playground breaches European limits.

Hackney Council’s pollution officer, Miar Crutchley, explained in a meeting in January that pollution levels for nitrogen dioxide at William Patten Primary School only start meeting the EU legal objective of 40μg/m3 around 20 metres into the playground.

A petition of 800 signatures against local road closure plans which would send more traffic past the school was presented to the council late last month.

Defending the plans, Councilor Feryal Demirci, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, Transport and Parks, said that the data indicates levels aren’t illegal.

Lucy Harbor, an air pollution consultant and parent at William Patten, said: “We’re shocked that they think increasing pollution at the school is fair game. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, which can stunt lung growth. Denying where the legal limit is breached in the face of such clear evidence is ridiculous and unprofessional.

“For them to publicly deny the very real picture of pollution at our school in order to push ahead with plans that will increase pollution there is shameful, immoral and risks children’s health.”

The council say the road closures would displace 564 additional vehicles to the area outside the school in Stoke Newington Church Street each day.

Harbor added: “Using the council’s own method, even with a 10% traffic evaporation, the number of extra cars displaced to Church Street will be over 2,000. We believe the traffic increase figures for Church Street in the consultation were therefore wrong.”

Speaking at the full council, Demirci denied the data was flawed and said more traffic analysis is being carried out. 

Diane Abbot, the local MP, is also urging Hackney Council to “properly consider” the consequences of the road closures.

In a letter to clean air campaigners, she wrote: “I have asked Mayor Glanville for reassurance that the Council has considered the effects of the road closures proposal, as it is in contest with clean air initiatives.

“As I am sure Mayor Glanville would agree, all children in Hackney have a right to a clean and healthy learning environment, and together we will work to address these concerns.”

Hackney Council says no decision has yet been reached on whether to proceed with the plans.

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