Greens promise to tackle ‘poisoned playgrounds’

Green Party candidates fighting local election campaigns on Thursday (3 May) are calling for measures to protect children from the harmful impact of air pollutants, including closure of roads to traffic near schools.

Senior Party members including Baroness Jenny Jones, the Greens’ spokesperson in the House of Lords, and the Party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley, outlined a series of air quality measures that Green councillors will seek to push ahead with if elected at Thursday’s local polls at a launch in North London today.

Green Party campaigners launching the Party’s clean air policies in North London this morning (1 May)

These include a headline ‘school streets’ policy, which will see the closure of streets in front of schools to traffic at opening times ‘to make the school environment safer and less polluted’.

Greens are also keen to develop safe routes to school to make walking and cycling easier — and the Party has promised to push the government to quadrupling spending per person on walking and cycling from around £6.50 to £30.

At the launch, the Greens warned that children are playing in “poisoned playgrounds”, with a quarter of primary schools in London in areas with illegally dirty air in 2010.

Clean Air Bill

The pledges will be pushed alongside the party’s Clean Air Bill, which was introduced to the House of Lords by Baroness Jones (see story).

The Bill promises to declare clean air as a human right, set up a Citizens’ Commission to support people taking legal action to enforce that right, and ensure the ‘polluter pays principle’ underpins all regulations and charges.

Baroness Jones, said: “When I started talking about air pollution as a London Assembly member in 2000, no one was interested in the health impacts and radical solutions. Well now I’m in a position to deliver those solutions.

“I’m going to put a Clean Air Bill before Parliament and hope to get widespread support. Air pollution is now known as an issue that everyone has to care about.”

Mr Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, added: “Closing the streets in front of schools is a common sense policy. From London to Edinburgh, anywhere this has been implemented it has seen fewer cars on the road and more children walking and cycling safely to school. That means parents don’t feel forced to drive their kids around out of fear for their safely.

“Not only does this help children get the exercise they need, which is better for a child’s heart, but they’ll also be breathing in less pollution, which is better for a child’s lungs. This Green bill is a win/win for our children’s health.”

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