Children of MPs are being cared for within yards of some of the most polluted roads in the country, new analysis of the UK’s air quality has discovered.
Crèches located in the heart of Westminster - used by MPs and other Parliamentary staff - are within 150meters of roads where the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air is more than 1.5 times above the legal limit.
The analysis, carried out by Greenpeace, also shows that in Education Secretary Justine Greening’s Putney constituency 35 schools and nurseries are close to illegally polluted roads – making it one of the worst affected in the country.
The Government has just two weeks to publish new measures on how it will improve air quality after its last plan was judged so bad it was actually illegal by the High Court in November.
Greenpeace UK air pollution campaigner Areeba Hamid told Huff Post UK: “Our investigation is a stark reminder that whatever privileges Westminster politicians may enjoy, there’s no bubble to insulate them or their kids from the impacts of air pollution.
“The children of MPs and Whitehall staff who attend these creches and nurseries are as vulnerable to the health damages of traffic fumes as thousands of their peers across the country.
“They too would pay a price should the government fail once again to come up with a strong plan to tackle illegal air pollution.”
Analysis published by the Guardian and Greenpeace last week revealed that across the country more than 2,000 schools and nurseries are near roads with damaging levels of diesel fumes.
The new information shows the parliamentary constituency with the largest number of educational institutions and nurseries near to illegally polluted roads is Cities of London and Westminster, represented by Conservative MP Mark Field.
The Parliament and Whitehall crèches are in this constituency, which include facilities at the House of Commons, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence.
Other London constituencies seriously affected include Chelsea and Fulham, represented by Trade Minister Greg Hands, which has 36 education or childcare providers within 150m of an illegally polluted road, and Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison’s constituency of Battersea, south London, which has 43.
The upper legal limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40 micrograms per cubic metre, but a nursery in Tower Hamlets, East London, had a reading of 118.19mcg/m3 – almost three times the limit.
While London is the worst affected area, other parts of the country are also coping with illegally polluted air.
One MP who makes use of the Commons crèche is Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds, who accused the Government of treating environmental issues like “fluffy stuff” that should only be looked at in the “good times.”
He said: “This issue of air pollution is really rising up the public consciousness. It needs a proper strategy behind it.
“More and more families are now living in city centers instead of moving out once they have children, partly because of the improvement to inner-city schools, and so this is becoming more of an issue.”
Reynolds said the village of Hollingworth in his own constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde was particularly affected by HGVs travelling between Manchester and Sheffield.
When the initial findings were published last week, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.
“That’s why we have committed more than £2billion since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles, support greener transport schemes and set out how we will improve air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones. In addition, in the Autumn Statement, we announced a further £290m to support electric vehicles, low emission buses and taxis, and alternative fuels.
“We will update our air quality plans shortly to further improve the nation’s air quality.”