Car pollution near schools big worry for children, survey finds

Almost two-thirds of London schoolchildren are worried about air pollution near their school – an increase of 11 per cent since a similar survey was conducted in 2018.

YouGov’s survey found ¾ of children are worried about climate change and pollution

A YouGov poll, commissioned by the walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, surveyed 1,305 pupils aged from 6 to 15 years old across the UK, of which 180 were in London. They were asked about their attitudes towards air pollution and the climate crisis. They were also asked about and the actions they think should be taken to help reduce the impact of poor air quality and climate change.

Of those surveyed in London, 63 per cent said adults are not doing enough to tackle climate change. This is in line with the national findings.

More than three-quarters – 76 per cent – of the children admitted to feeling worried about climate change, and 61 per cent thought that adults don’t listen to children’s concerns about the topic.

The survey also found:

  • More than half (54 per cent) of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars
  • 33 per cent of pupils are “worried” that transport makes more greenhouse gases in the UK than anything else, with private vehicle use, especially cars, making up the biggest part of this
  • Just 3 per cent of the children surveyed currently cycle, while 9 per cent said that they wanted to
  • Just 4 per cent currently scoot to school; 10 per cent would like to.

More than half the children surveyed said there are too many cars near their schools

“The results of this survey highlight the responsibility we have to create a healthier, greener and fairer society for the generation coming after us,” said James Austin, Sustrans’ London director.

“For those who tend to drive their children to schools, it’s worth remembering that swapping all or part of their everyday journeys to active modes of travel can help cut dangerous levels of air pollution in our towns and cities.

“We are calling on the new Mayor of London to make walking, wheeling and cycling more inclusive by empowering a million more Londoners with the skills and resources to cycle regularly.

“We know that many more Londoners have started walking and cycling more during lockdown. Let’s help them continue to travel more actively as life slowly gets back to normal.”

The survey has been released to mark the start of this year’s Big Pedal, Britain’s largest inter-school active travel competition.

Held annually by Sustrans, this year’s challenge will see more than half a million children walk, cycle, scoot and wheel their journeys to and from school.

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9 Responses to Car pollution near schools big worry for children, survey finds

  1. Ian Ross says:

    The “school run” is the least justified use of cars since the vast majority of children are (or should be) within walking distance. Bearing in mind the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes I’d suggest that children and parents would benefit from the exercise whilst leaving their SUVs at home.

    • Lewis White says:

      So incredibly sad to see children being delivered by car -especially to schools that have little or no playground space. No wonder the incidence of juvenile obesity, and mental health problems such as depression is going up and up.

      And the thin kids? Internal body fat is a hidden killer too.

      Action needed?
      Start off with a nationwide ban on any new schools without generous outdoor play space on site.

      Planners and -disgracefully– Councillors–gave permission to the Harris Primary on Purley way just a few years ago. It should be called “Purley Way Pollution Primary”

      Heathfield Academy in South Croydon should be called “Car park side Academy”.

      These new schools are big buildings standing on sites with few or no trees, and a TOTALLY inadequate, derisory amount of open air playgrounds.

      I blame National and Local Government for such cynical “Development Management and facilitating”–not “Town Planning”, by any stretch of imagination.

      Meanwhile, within a mile of both of the ones I name and shame above, we have the open fields –grazed by gypsy ponies for a decade or more–that were the former playing fields of Heath Clark School.

      The school was knocked down–Why??
      Some 20 or more years ago– and the “real green grass playing fields” enjoyed by the pupils of the former school (not astroturf, not tarmac) have lain derlect for all this time since. What an incredible waste of a great resource. Doesn’t anyone care ??

      At least one of the schools I mention should have been located there, on these playing fields. Then the pupils / stidents/ children could have breathed in fresh air, and the smell of newly mown grass, not the stench of cars and lorries on the Purley Way–or the de-natured, air conditioned stuff that has to be filtered to get rid of pollutants.

      1– The politicians need to act to stop building new schools on sites by main roads, or in the thrall of incinerators.
      2- Planners and Poiticians need to stafeguard the sites of ALL schools with playing fields on site, and with outdoor playgrounds

      Let the children BREATHE for goodness sake.
      They then might be healthier, and much happier.

      In fact, I think that all decision makers have a Duty of Care when it comes to key decisions like the location of schools.

      The logic is — those who make a planning decision that advsersely affects the health of children should be responsible for the long term efects and damage on heath.

      It is about time that someone took the Government, Planners and Councillors to court.

  2. Pete Jenkins says:

    Your Flyover “header” is somewhat apt. What about the Krishna Avanti Primary School built right beside the flyover near Violet Lane on the left at the Duppas Hill end? We’ve seen many queues on that road and there must be some sort of pollution from the resulting jams? Good old Croydon Council – for allowing such a build.

    • Our banner images rotate on a regular basis, Pete, so the Flyover picture is now long gone… The point you make is a valid one, though. This borough appears determined to build schools on sites close to some of the most polluting urban motorways in the capital. Almost opposite the Krishna Avanti site was, until recently, St Andrew’s, while down the Purley Way is a new Harris Academy primary on the site of a former school which was closed because of the high levels of pollution there.

  3. John Harvey says:

    Motorists are losing the battle to claim that School Streets etc are just a municipal money making scheme

    They should commit to avoid school entrances regardless of whether these are protected by traffic orders to gain some respect

    Kids lives matter

  4. Rod Davies says:

    It’s Tuesday and I watched the Conservative candidate for the London Mayor, and based on what he appears to be proposing we can expect a return to the days when the streets around primary schools were clogged with the school run and heavy with pollution. I conclude that we live in a profoundly divided community where one group is concern about the future generation’s health & welfare and the other group don’t care and expect to get everything they want regardless of the impact.

    • Lewis White says:

      I expect them soon to be opening “Chimney Boys (and Girls) Academies” and introducing school meals with menus entitled “The Workhouse Diet” and “Ricketts and Chicken Nugget Gruel ” with sponsorship from Burger King, Colonel Sanders, and MMMMorleys.

      What has happened to us???

  5. Kevin Croucher says:

    You only have to see the uproar that follows any attempt to restrtct driving to see that nothing is going to happen. Councillors will cave in to some noisy protestors and it will be business as usual.

  6. Lewis White says:

    Got it! We need time–restricted automatic barriers , width restrictions and height restriction barriers on streets within half a mile of school between 8 am and 9:30 am and again in the afternoon, designed just the right size to stop huge polluting SUV mums and dads delivering their kids to school. Computer controlled to let the supermarket deliver van in. Let’s be fair here.

    Let the kids learn to walk –half a mile each way. .

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