Survey reveals most UK parents back air pollution exclusion zones around schools

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Guardian

The Guardian reports that a new study published by environmental law organisation ClientEarth reveals that the majority of UK parents back the introduction of “pollution exclusion zones” outside schools. The study comes at a time of growing concern over illegal and potentially dangerous levels of air pollution are causing long-term damage to young people.

According to the report, 60% of parents want traffic diverted away from school gates at the beginning and end of the school day, with just 13% opposed.

Last year Guardian investigation revealed that hundreds of thousands of children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution outside their schools and colleges – mainly from diesel vehicles. Health experts have repeatedly warned that exposure to this level of air pollution is doing serious long-term damage to children’s health and have described the issue as a public health emergency.

The government has been widely criticised for its lack of action and last week it was defeated for the third time in the high court where its air pollution plans were described as “flawed” and “unlawful”.

Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, said: “For parents, there is nothing worse than worrying about the health and wellbeing of your child. Yet in Britain we’ve reached a point where children are exposed to damaging levels of air pollution every day. This is simply unacceptable.”

Cook said children’s lungs are far more vulnerable than adults, as they are still developing, and toxic air can stunt their growth.

Monday’s poll, carried out by YouGov for ClientEarth, also found that 63% of parents opposed new schools being built in areas of high pollution; 60% were worried about the effect that air pollution was having on their children’s health and 70% were in favour of the government alerting schools on high pollution days.

The results follow ClientEarth’s third court victory against the UK government over illegal and harmful levels of air pollution across the country.

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On Wednesday last week, Mr Justice Garnham ruled ministers’ plans to bring down air pollution unlawful. Following the judgment, clean air in the UK will be overseen by the courts, rather than ministers, in what was described as a “wholly exceptional” ruling.

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