Boris Johnson accused of burying report on the number of deprived schools in London's most polluted areas

The study found 83 per cent of primary schools in areas in breach of EU pollution limits were classed as 'deprived'

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 16 May 2016 23:10
A clean air mask is seen placed on the top of Nelson's Column by Greenpeace activists to protest against air pollution.
A clean air mask is seen placed on the top of Nelson's Column by Greenpeace activists to protest against air pollution.

Boris Johnson has been accused of burying an air quality report while he was Mayor of London that showed hundreds of school in the city were in areas which exceed EU pollution limits.

The leaked report, Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London, said 433 of the capital’s 1,777 primary schols are in areas where pollution breached the EU’s limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Of those, 83 per cent were considered “deprived” schools - with more than 40 per cent of their pupils entitled to free school meals.

The report was completed in September 2013 but has never been published.

A spokeswoman for Sadiq Khan, who succeed Mr Johnson as mayor earlier this month, told the Guardian she could not understand why the report was not published at the time.

She said: “This shocking report reveals a snapshot of the true ‎impact that our polluted air has on some of London’s most vulnerable communities.

“It is difficult to understand why the last mayoralty decided to cover it up and not fully release it in 2013 – they clearly didn’t want Londoners to know the dire state of pollution in the capital.

“The mayor is fully committed to cleaning up our air and protecting Londoners’ health and is shocked to learn that important scientific evidence like this have been locked and ignored at City Hall.”

Boris Johnson has come under fire after the report was commissioned but never published 

In his first official week as mayor, the Labour politician has accused his predecessor of making London a “laughing stock” on air pollution by being too slow to act of the issue.

He said the would be expanding the size of Mr Johnson’s proposed planned clean air zone to include the north and south circular roads.

The report was commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA) in early 2013 from independent air quality and climate change emissions consultancy, Aether.

The authors of the report, Katie King and Sean Healy, wrote there was “still a clear disparity between deprived and non-deprived schools” - though the inequality was set to lessen by 2020.

They said a reason for this may be that lower house prices, and therefore poorer neighbourhoods, tended to sit next to main roads such as the M4.

The report found that in half of the most deprived 10 per cent of London the air was in breach of EU limits - compared to one per cent of the richest areas.

Over 9,000 people a year are estimated to die early from the high levels of NO2 in the capital.

London has been in breach of EU limits since 2010 and is not expected to meet them until 2025.

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