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Prior Weston Primary has become the first school in London to undergo an ‘air quality audit’ as part of a £250,000 drive to clean up the Capital. The school, based on the doorstep of the Golden Lane Estate in Whitecross Street, is heavily impacted by vehicle emissions from traffic-laden Beech Street...

Prior Weston Primary has become the first school in London to undergo an ‘air quality audit’ as part of a £250,000 drive to clean up the Capital.

The school, based on the doorstep of the Golden Lane Estate in Whitecross Street, is heavily impacted by vehicle emissions from traffic-laden Beech Street (above), which has pollution levels twice the legal limit.

And as part of a wider move to enhance the health of all Londoners, staff and pupils were visited by the Mayor of London as he launched a series of studies that will target the 50 schools most affected by elevated toxicity levels.

The reports, which are scheduled to be completed by March next year, are part of a pilot scheme which, if successful, could be rolled out to every school located in an area of high pollution.

“It is shameful that children across London are breathing in toxic air simply by going to and from school, and I am determined to do everything in my power to safeguard their health,” said Sadiq Khan.

“These air quality audits are a big step towards helping some of the most polluted schools in London identify effective solutions to protect pupils from toxic fumes, but this is only part of the solution.”

Financed by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and conducted by global engineering consultancy WSP, Mr Khan wants to see “hard-hitting” measures put in place on the back of the audits.

Recommendations could include moving school entrances and play areas to reduce exposure to busy roads; ‘no engine idling’ schemes to reduce harmful emissions during the school run; and green infrastructure such as ‘barrier bushes’ along busy roads and in playgrounds to help to filter toxic fumes.

Changes to local road networks have not been ruled out as City Hall strives to address an ongoing crisis. Prior Weston is also within the T-charge zone which, subject to a late legal challenge, will be introduced on 23 October.

Vehicles operating in the area will need to meet minimum exhaust emission standards, or pay a daily £10 penalty.

“Before the end of the year I will be announcing a decision on my plans to bring forward and extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone along some of our busiest roads,” added Mr Khan.

“We are making great strides in London but I can’t do this alone. The government must match my ambition in tackling the biggest public health emergency of a generation.”

Not content to wait on external measures to be introduced, Prior Weston is already taking steps to improve air quality and educate pupils about pollution by encouraging cycling and scooting to school, and providing a shelter for bicycles and scooters.

Speaking about the visit of auditors, Prior Weston headteacher Andrew Boyes said: “It is a great opportunity for our children to learn more about environmental issues that impact directly on their lives, and to make a substantial difference to key pollution issues that affect everyone in our local community.

“It is great for the children to be able to apply their maths, science and communication skills through such a meaningful and worthwhile project.”

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