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Shock figures reveal more than half of schools in Hampstead are in dangerously polluted areas

PUBLISHED: 17:23 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:24 11 May 2017

Hampstead children protesting pollution around St Stephen's Church. Photo: Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Hampstead children protesting pollution around St Stephen's Church. Photo: Jessica Learmond-Criqui

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Concerned parents and residents are determined to make the threat of toxic air a local election issue, as figures reveal that almost 55 per cent of schools in Hampstead are exposed to toxic fumes.

The figures, released by London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, also show that 79 per cent of schools in Holborn and St Pancras are in areas which are over the legal pollution limit.

Children in the Parliamentary constituencies of Finchley and Golders Green and Hornsey and Wood Green are significantly less exposed to the toxic fumes in comparison, although no schools should be in areas which breach legal pollution limits.

In Finchley and Golders Green and Hornsey and Wood Green, nine per cent and 12 per cent of schools are respectively in areas which are considered unsafe.

Hampstead solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “North West London is mobilising and campaigning for clean air for children who go to school in what is the educational capital of the UK and indeed, of the world.

“Hampstead is the schools’ capital of the world with more children going to school here, per capita, than anywhere else. 91 per cent of the children who go to school in Hampstead do not live here – of 12,500 children who go to school here, only 1,100 live here.

“We are raising a major alert, particularly as we go into the summer months when atmospheric conditions may exacerbate pollution levels.

“Some of the roads in Hampstead are almost twice in excess of the legal limit for NO2 levels.

“The children who go to school here and their parents are at risk as they are threatened by illegal toxic fumes.”

Commenting on the figures in his local area, Keir Starmer, Parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras, said: “This is another stark reminder of the damage that air pollution is doing to our community.

“For one in four local schools to be in areas of dangerously high pollution is shocking and unacceptable.

“We also need a government who are willing and able to take bold steps necessary to improve our environment.”

Hampstead campaigners fear that the Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11) and the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) schemes will bring 475 extra cars and lorries per hour to the busy side streets around schools and pose a threat to children’s health, as well as causing irreparable damage to the lungs of elderly residents.

Ms Learmond-Criqui is calling on Camden Council to ensure it complies with its obligations under the EU Air Quality Directive and to deliver clean air to North West London.

She is keen to hear the views of all Parliamentary candidates in Hampstead and Kilburn on pollution and how to combat the issue.

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