Pupils and parents protest at pollution around Hampstead and Highgate

PUBLISHED: 17:04 15 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:35 17 March 2017

Hampstead children protest against pollution. (Photo: Jessica Learmond-Criqui)

Hampstead children protest against pollution. (Photo: Jessica Learmond-Criqui)


Schoolchildren and parents staged a protest against the pollution around schools throughout Hampstead and Highgate which they claim is choking them to death.

Donning face masks, they called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene to stop the Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11) and the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2 schemes in their tracks.

They fear both planned projects will bring 475 extra cars and lorries per hour to the narrow streets around schools and pose a real threat to their health.

It comes days after the director general of the World Health Organization said air pollution is “one of the most pernicious threats” facing global public health and is on a much bigger scale than HIV or Ebola.

Dr Margaret Chan told the BBC Today programme that indoor and outdoor pollution was linked to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children each year.

It also comes after Mr Khan called for cars to be banned from roads near schools in order to reduce air pollution.

The Mayor of London accused the government of “ignoring” toxic air and criticised chancellor Philip Hammond for not raising taxes for the most polluting vehicles in last Wednesday’s budget.

Mr Khan said: “Forty or 50 years ago we thought smoking was bad and yet our forebears took no action.

“Now, we know air quality is a killer, it makes you sick and no action has been taken. It’s a health emergency.”

Solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who coordinated the protest with Hampstead mums and pupils outside St Stephen’s, in Rosslyn Hill, said: “Hampstead is already bad and in excess of safe NO2 levels for adults and kids. The readings are off the scale.

“Hampstead and Belsize area is the biggest educational park in the world. There are over 55 schools and colleges in Hampstead and Belsize with at least 12,500 school children going to school here every day – many under seven years old,” she said. “Why is the mayor encouraging TfL to force up to 475 extra cars per hour into some of our narrowest residential side roads?”

She also believes that work on a new immunology unit in the grounds of The Royal Free Hospital will cause more pollution with 80 lorry movements per day.

“The path of those lorries is right at the bottom of the garden of Hampstead Hill school.

“What about the kids in that school breathing in the lorry fumes? Why does the mayor’s rhetoric not apply to those kids and why is the Royal Free being allowed to get away with gassing these children in this way?

“Mayor Khan’s rhetoric does not live up to the reality of the outcome of some of the policies which he supports,” she added.

Ms Learmond-Criqui said: “While we support cycling, CS11 in its current form is not right for our area.

“I would invite the mayor to reach out to community leaders and give them the support they need to come up with a safe scheme for cyclists but which won’t increase the toxicity on the young and old lungs in our area,” she said.


  • “While we support cycling, CS11 in its current form is not right for our area." So Ms Learmond-Criqui is rightly concerned about air pollution but is against the single best solution for combating urban air pollution: segregated cycling infrastructure. That is nonsense on stilts, all the more so as Ms. Learmond-Criqui gives absolutely no reason why "it's not right for our area". First, It's not "your area" Belsize and Highgate are in the City of London where we all live, travel, visit (hopefully by bike). Second, in the absence of any reason given against CS11, it must be assumed there are no good reasons an that this objection is simple "not in my back yard-ism".

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    Geoffrey Craig

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • So, does Ms Learmond-Criqui walk her darling kiddie-winkles to school. Or does she use an oversized V8 Range Rover to take them half a mile? I wonder, is it the gas guzzling V8 or the cyclists causing the pollution? Just imagine the pollution if all those cyclists were driving cars. You're not in traffic, you ARE traffic.

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    Briony North

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • So, cars and lorries are causing pollution, but the proposed answer is to stop a cycle highway and rail line. Perhaps JLC and her nimby followers might want to stop using their Chelsea tractors to ferry their kids the half mile to school. Bikes and trains are not the issue here; selfish and lazy drivers who feel entitled to pollute most definitely are.

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    Big Softy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Aside from the fact that this is a disingenuous campaign (cycling doesn't cause, or displace pollution - deal with the root cause rather than try to blame others!), thoe masks will be utterly useless against pollution as they will not filter particulate matter, especially 2.5 microns, which can get into the bloodstream. The longer this woman maintains this campaign, the more she is killing those children.

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    chris zanf

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • How about allowing your children to walk to school instead of hauling them 300 yards in a diesel powered 4x4?

    Report this comment

    Donald Maclean

    Monday, March 20, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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