Thursday, 20 February 2020


Cars. Yes, cars. Couldn't be without 'em, I know. But God, could we do without a lungful of their exhaust gases!

The The Royal College of Physicians estimate that in the UK alone 40,000 deaths a year are directly linked to air pollution, with engine idling as a major contributing factor. The Head of the World Health Organisation has identified air pollution as one of the most pernicious threats facing the planet, a threat linked to the deaths of 600,000 children annually worldwide. More than 90% of our children breathe poor-quality air, apparently.

And if it doesn't choke you, it can choke off your brain power. Studies linking the negative effects of car exhaust fumes on the cognitive abilities of children are well known. And yet, outside schools up and down the county, this is happening.

These cars aren't parked. They're queuing for a place to park outside their children's school. But as they queue, their engines belch out toxic gas on those of us walking on the pavement. But worse! Once they get there, to the school, and park then this is what can happen:

A car, parked (badly) and unoccupied, with the engine left running.

It's enough to make you want to travel in the safety of your own car, except...

The detrimental effect this must have on air-quality around the school is obvious. There are statutory powers to stop this sort of thing although you've got to overcome the inertia of the local borough council (whose statutory duty it is under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to monitor and control air quality) in order to get anywhere.

Oh, and don't try writing to your local councillor(s) either. I did. Last April, to both the ward rep and the leader and I've yet to hear a dickie-bird back. Mind you, the poor dickie-birds are as badly off in all this as pedestrians and cyclists. I did mention the fact that I'd heard nothing to my local MP. And I heard nothing, until very recently when an apologetic email arrived saying my letter had got overlooked in the fight for votes.

And there are clearly no votes in getting motorists to cut their engines.

Thankfully someone IS doing something, although it'll cost your child's school £60 out of their ever-diminishing budget. The RAC has commissioned this banner as part of its campaign for cleaner air.

You can get one by clicking this link:

Or you could just invest in a stock of face masks and underwater breathing apparatus...

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