Air quality is a political issue. This is because of the public health implications of damage to the most vulnerable in our society.2 The monitoring of Havering’s schools reveals that ten are in a less than ideal situation.3 Gidea Park Primary, located on Main Road, Romford breaches the EU Directive Limit for healthy air quality, which means the pupils are in an area of public health danger. Two more schools are also at peril of breaching EU guidelines. They are St. Mary’s RC and Parkland schools.
The agenda item identified the problem without offering strategies beyond exhortation (para 2:2, p22). Asthma is an increasing problem for the young making this a matter of urgency for the three worst schools. They should have separate plans to help mitigate this problem.
Havering’s 2019 Air Quality Action Plan4 is a generalised statement full of aspirational objectives. It’s entirely unhelpful for the three schools suffering poor air quality. Incremental improvements aren’t fast enough to deal with air quality challenges which are silent and deadly. There’s no sense of urgency in this item.
This crucially important item merits further robust discussion. The health risks of air quality problems need spelling out so that a context of urgency is established.
As an outer London borough with vast swathes of green belt Havering’s asthma statistics are far lower than inner London’s. However the statistics on p21 show that some schools are impacted by air pollution to a significant degree.
3 The report didn’t say whether every school was monitored and these were the ten worse. St Joseph’s school seems to fit the profile of an ‘at risk’ school. This school wasn’t monitored and has very similar air quality problems as Upminster Junior school, its near neighbour.