The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has just awarded more than £1.27million in funding to help tackle the capital’s toxic air by improving and creating green spaces.
Projects include green ‘pollution barriers’ for schools that will help protect against toxic air, plus new green spaces for housing estates, community gardens to help improve mental health and wildlife habitats in parks.
Greening playgrounds with climbing plants across entire walls, hedges, and wider green infrastructure can be beneficial to boosting air quality and reducing exposure to harmful emissions from busy roads. A recent report by the Air Quality Expert Group found a ‘green barrier’ between cars and pedestrians can halve the levels of pollution behind the barrier*.
The winning Community Green Space projects include help for 29 primary schools located next to some of London’s most polluted roads, which will receive a combined total of £400,000 for green infrastructure in playgrounds to reduce children’s exposure to toxic traffic emissions.
As well as the grants, the Mayor has published two new maps that detail London’s green spaces and waterways and can be used to help identify where greater investment in greening would bring significant benefits.
The projects form part of a package of measures to protect children from toxic air that the Mayor is delivering, including helping schools through his air quality audits programme, working with boroughs to restrict road usage outside school entrances, upgrading boilers, tackling engine idling, promoting walking and cycling and piloting indoor air filters.
Sadiq has recently expanded London’s network of air quality monitors, including providing them for many schools. The monitors will help assess the impact of green barriers. These measures sit alongside the introduction of the 24-hour Ultra Low Emission Zone on 8 April in Central London.
Marner Primary School in Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, has been awarded £30,000 from the Mayor’s Community Green Space fund to transform its playground with a range of green measures to reduce emissions from the highly polluted A12 and nearby Devas Street. The school is one London’s most polluted primary schools, and was one of 50 assessed last year as part of the Mayor’s air quality audits programme. The school will install ‘green screens’ of evergreen climbing plants, such as ivy, to create a ‘barrier’ wall between the playground and Devas Street. Further trees and hedgerows will be planted along the school perimeter, and a ‘green gateway’ will be created at the main entrance to encourage children to walk through a tunnel of evergreen plants.
The projects are all part of the Mayor’s work to make London one of the greenest cities in the world and to become the first National Park City, by improving and increasing green spaces, cleaning the capital’s air, planting trees, reducing waste, and becoming zero-carbon by 2050.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is unacceptable that our filthy air is affecting the lung growth and respiratory health of our young children, especially those who go to school by busy, polluted roads. My funding will help create much needed new spaces for communities to enjoy and help reduce toxic pollution with green barriers in and around schools to protect our children from polluted air. This will complement our drive to reduce vehicle emissions across the capital, including the introduction of the 24-hour Central London Ultra Low Emission Zone in April, and cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet. The new water ways, wildlife habitats and community gardens we are creating will help London maintain its status as one of the greenest world cities as we work towards becoming a National Park City this summer.“
Carol Doherty, Assistant Head, Marner Primary School said: “Marner School are really excited and enthusiastic to get going with this important project. It is something we as a school community feel really passionate about and we want air pollution to improve not just locally but globally. The children are also working on understanding more about air pollution in their lessons and year three are making a short film. We are ensuring the fund enables us to make changes that are sustainable and educational for future generations.”
Pollution Work at Marner
- As part of his plans to improve air quality, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commissioned air quality audits in 50 primary schools. These schools were located in areas with particularly poor air quality. The purpose of the audits was to find ways to help protect children from air pollution. The reports (published in May 2018) made a number of recommendations on how schools can help reduce children’s exposure to air pollution. Over the next six months, these schools will be considering the recommendations and making plans for their implementation.
- During Air quality Audits carried out by Kings College and The Mayor’s office Marner was found to be one of the most polluted schools in London.
- Due to this the GLA decided Marner should get £10k to help towards putting in measures to reduce the pollution in the area. Recommendations were made and Marner has chosen ways to help reduce the pollution around the school. These plans for the green screening, the forest school and a greener entrance to Marner and possibly air filtration units for the inside are laid out in the grant application. (see attached)
- In addition Marner applied to the Greener cities fund for further funding to put towards our plans for a Greener Marner. We were awarded a further £30,000 which is 50% match funded. So there is another £15,000 on top of that = £45,000 which is made up from:
- Volunteers from ELBA (corporate) giving their time for free to help clear our garden area ready for a forest school
- Great Portland Estates – A company which builds housing and is working in Whitechapel. They want to give something back to the community and therefore are paying for Groundworks to project manage our funding.
- Free trees to plant
- Volunteers from school and our community
- Poplar Harca Housing
- We have a hub installed at our front entrance which is measuring pollution levels every hour. This data can be accessed through The Breathe London website (which should be launched soon)
- We are also taking part in a huge survey with Kings College through C40 cities. This will involve 50 participants. 10 adults from the school and 40 children. It will be made up of school councils reps from across the school. Y6 prefects and Y3 reps who are taking part in making a film on pollution. They will do a pre survey and permission will be got from parents.
- Also All three Y5 classes and their parents are also involved in a survey to ascertain a before and after snap shot of the project.
- Alongside all this we are working with Sustrans bikes. This is a year- long project which involves children learning to ride both in main school and Saturday school. Parents will also be targeted to learn to ride. Parent coffee mornings will encourage this by having a smoothie bike at a coffee morning. The project was launched with a BE Bright Bike it day. The children made scooters, bikes and themselves bright for a competition. There were prizes. Alison who is our link person with sustrans is also delivering workshops on pollution to the children to raise awareness.
- Saturday School have been working on pollution with various organisations for 2-3 years now. This has included The citizen Science project with the GLA; Work on testing protypes a glove and jackets with Umbrellium. Various measures have been taken previously of the pollution levels in and around the school vicinity. At this time we made a short film showing the work we were doing and why.