Council marks Clean Air Day with measures to improve air quality for school children

Islington Council is today celebrating Clean Air Day with a package of important new measures to clean up Islington’s air and make school journeys greener, healthier and safer.

To mark Clean Air Day, and as part of the Council’s work to build an even more environmentally friendly borough, five more School Street schemes are now set to be made permanent.

Islington’s pioneering School Streets are helping to improve air quality and make the school gate safer and healthier for children, carers and school staff. By preventing most motor vehicle traffic from travelling down streets around schools at drop-off and pick-up times, School Streets improve air quality and road safety, making Islington a better place for young people to grow up and get around.

Islington currently has 35 School Streets, covering 36 schools – including the five schemes that were initially introduced as trials in January 2021 and are now being made permanent following positive feedback and monitoring data.

To ensure that children at schools on main roads are also able to enjoy a cleaner, greener, healthier school gate, the council is today also able to confirm the completion of works to improve safety and the environment outside Ambler Primary School and Canonbury Primary School.

As the main roads outside both schools are key to the local transport system, they cannot be temporarily closed off to traffic in the way that School Streets can – but a series of new measures will help to reduce air pollution and screen children at the school gate from traffic. These include pavement widening on Blackstock Road and Canonbury Road, double yellow lines to prevent parking outside both schools, new planting, and footway repaving outside Canonbury Primary School.

The council is also working with Global Action Plan and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on a pioneering project that is helping to educate health professionals at 15 Islington surgeries about the health risks associated with air pollution.

Through the scheme – known as the Islington Primary Care for Clean Air Project – healthcare professionals are learning about how they can encourage patients to adopt habits that reduce their exposure and contribution to air pollution.

Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality, and Transport, said: “I’m so pleased to celebrate Clean Air Day in Islington with this ambitious package of new measures – cutting air pollution at the school gate, and working with healthcare professionals to tackle the causes of air pollution that blights so many lives.

“Doing nothing is not an option – air pollution stunts children’s lungs and causes thousands of excess deaths in London every year. By rolling out School Streets across the borough and introducing similar measures for schools on main roads, we can bring cleaner air to the school gate and secure a healthier future for local schoolchildren.

“We all have a part to play, and this Clean Air Day we’re inviting people across the borough to continue to do their bit to help reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency – whether that’s taking more trips by foot or bike, recycling and reusing more, or turning off appliances when not in use.”

Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan, says: “We’re thrilled to be working collaboratively with Islington Council and the borough’s healthcare professionals to empower them to confidently share information on air pollution with their patients. As some of the most trusted messengers in society, health professionals, particularly GPs, play a crucial role in protecting people’s health – especially that of some of the most vulnerable people who come through the door of the health service every day.”