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Letter: Local school playgrounds near illegally polluted roads

Date published: 12 September 2017


Dear Editor,

Regular readers of Rochdale Online will already be aware of the air pollution risk to local people along sections of the A58, Manchester Road, covered previously:

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/129/letters-to-the-editor/109373/letter-illegal-air-pollution-levels-on-the-a58-approaching-sudden

This week Client Earth who has been fighting for citizens right to breathe clean air for several years have produced an online map measuring air pollution near UK schools.

Two Rochdale schools are included in the almost 1,000 schools which are exposed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels that endanger their health and will shape the future wellbeing of the pupils attending.

With Client Earth mapping Beech House independent School and Brimrod Community School, both near Manchester Road, as being 'within 150 m of an illegally polluted road.

Children's health could be affected', as follows:

Beech House School (Independent School)
Postcode: OL11 4JQ
Local authority: Rochdale
61 metres from Manchester Road
What's the level of air pollution near my child's school?: 43.3μg/m3 (the maximum legal limit for NO2 is 40μg/m3)
Should I be concerned?: Government data says this school is within 150 m of an illegally polluted road. Children's health could be affected.

Brimrod Community Primary School
Postcode: OL11 4NB
Local authority: Rochdale
132 metres from MANCHESTER ROAD
What's the level of air pollution near my child's school?: 43.3μg/m3 (the maximum legal limit for NO2 is 40μg/m3)
Should I be concerned?: Government data says this school is within 150 m of an illegally polluted road. Children's health could be affected.

Client Earth also point out:

'Pollution affects our health and the quality of our life on a daily basis. Breathing polluted air poses even more serious risks to children, older people and people with existing medical conditions. It has been linked to premature births and children developing smaller lungs as they grow up in polluted areas. It causes cancer. It can also trigger heart attacks and strokes. It aggravates breathing conditions, increasing the risk of asthma attacks leading to more hospital admissions.'

The fact that one of the schools listed is only 61 metres from Manchester Road brings into sharp focus the issue. We should also be thankful for the vociferous residents opposition that preserved for all Rochdale residents the 'Green Lung ' of Mandale Park and prevented it from disappearing under concrete had it been bulldozed into a 'waste and recycling facility' as was proposed by town planners some years back.

Mandale Park is a vital and now priceless community asset since as Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs point out:

'Removal of Air Pollutants: Trees can remove gaseous air pollution either through uptake via leaf stomata or the plant surface. Once inside the leaf, gases diffuse into intercellular spaces and may be absorbed by water films to form acids or react with inner-leaf surfaces. Recent research suggests that the planting of trees along the sides of roads could reduce NO2 concentrations in addition to providing amenity value'.

Long may the trees, the urban vegetation of Mandale Park remain not only as a 'green oasis' for owls, foxes, squirrels and the occasional Roe Deer but as an effective, highly cost effective and sustainable air pollution ' scrubber ' to help mediate some of the worst effects of the air pollution to local residents along Manchester Road.

Campaigners also welcome the Council's popular initiatives to increase the number of new trees in movable planters on Manchester Road, along with the 'wild flower borders 'on grass verges.

All of these are both visually stunning and environmentally sustainable but good for the local environment and the Rochdalians who live and breathe the highly polluted air nearby.

That said, it is clear that increasing traffic volume along stretches of the A58, Manchester Road, as projected future vehicle use and proposals at Tetrosyl to store hazardous waste at the Castleton site delivered by lorries will undoubtedly only make air pollution far worse.

Rochdale Council needs to act to protect local school children and residents within 150 meters of illegal air pollution 'hot spots ' along Manchester Road.

Concerned readers of Rochdale Online who want to end 'poisoned playgrounds' can email their Member of Parliament about the issue at:

https://www.action.clientearth.org/poisoned%20playgrounds

Thank you.

Yours,

Andrew Wastling

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Rochdale Online.


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