Initiative to create clean air zones for Redbridge children walking to school

Parts of Redbridge will become clean air zones thanks to a bold new council initiative to ensure children have a healthier and safer school journey.

Under the innovative scheme, roads leading to three schools in the borough – SS Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School, Gordon Primary school and Fairlop Primary School will be closed to vehicles at the start and end of the school day during term time.

The move to eliminate the traffic hotspots around the Ilford and Hainault based schools will come into effect from Monday December 2 and aims to reduce children’s exposure to air pollution and road accidents, as well as encourage walking and cycling to school.

Complementing the road closures will be the council’s established programme of active and sustainable transport initiatives through the School Travel Planning process.

Schools receive a wide range of support for schemes that improve air quality, active travel and road safety e.g. cycle training, pedestrian skills training, and behaviour change activities.

These encourage pupils and their parents to walk, cycle and scoot to school, rather than being driven. More than 70 per cent of Redbridge school-aged children live within one mile of their school, based on pupil postcode at point of school registration (2018).

Council Leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “We have a duty to protect our children’s health, both as a council and also as part of the community ourselves.

“Targeting congested areas outside of schools will cut down on pollution caused by traffic and also make roads much safer for children.

“We know that air quality is a top concern for parents and that’s why we’re working on initiatives such as this to build a cleaner and safer environment for our residents and mitigate the impact pollution has on local young people.”

Cllr John Howard, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “London’s toxic air is having a hugely detrimental effect on the lungs of children and young people.

“This is an important project that will enable us to tackle air pollution by cutting down on congestion during the school run and encourage pupils and parents to walk and cycle. The programme will also create safer roads for children travelling to and from school.

“We are committed to improving air quality in the borough and the new traffic restrictions outside these school entrances will contribute towards this.”

Residents, businesses and blue badge holders in the designated no traffic zones are being urged to obtain exemption permits for their vehicles to avoid getting fines when the scheme comes into effect this December.

Signs will notify drivers that the roads surrounding the schools can only be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians at the displayed times, unless vehicles receive an exemption.

Vehicles that are not exempted and enter the closed street during the peak times will be identified by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £130.

Residents, businesses and blue badge holders located in the stretch of roads covered in the clean-air zone can apply for an exemption via the “Clean Air Zone Vehicle Exemption – Application Form” online.

The form should be completed by Thursday November 28.

The designated clean-air zones come hot off the heels of another scheme part funded by Redbridge Council implemented at William Torbitt Primary School and Oakdale Junior School to reduce air pollution by installing air purifiers in classrooms.

Redbridge’s on-going work to reduce air pollution was recently rewarded with the news that the borough was one of the greenest in the country thanks to efforts from the council to cut carbon emissions.

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industry, show the borough has reduced its Co2 emissions by 40 per cent between 2007 and 2017, placing it in the top ten cleanest boroughs in Britain.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]