Government must take urgent action to improve air quality around schools, report finds

Nearly two-thirds of teachers would support car-free roads outside schools during drop-off and pickup times, while more than half want the government to take urgent action to improve air quality outside schools, a survey suggests.

The study, in which 840 people in teaching roles across the UK participated, found that 63% would support a ban on motor vehicles outside the school gates at the start and end of the day.

One in three teachers are worried about air pollution, the survey for walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, found, with 43% saying idling car engines outside school gates concerned them. 63% said air pollution was a problem because their school was based on or near a busy main road.

The survey comes after a report from Public Health England called for measures aimed at improving air quality, including stopping cars idling near school gates, promoting car pool lanes, and providing priority parking for electric cars.

Published earlier this month, the report said air pollution was the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.

“Idling is against the law and it must be implemented more forcefully,” said Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a teacher and air pollution advocate who has campaigned for a new inquest into her daughter Ella’s death’s links to air pollution. She is setting up a new grassroots movement, @Mumsforcleanerair to press the government to act.

“Councils should paint double yellow lines all round schools so no one is able to park, and local councils must help plan the closure of streets,” she told the Guardian. “Parents need to make their voices louder in support of their children.”

Read more: The Guardian