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Written Question
Air Pollution: Further Education and Schools
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Ruth Jones (LAB - Newport West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made for the implications of his policies of the research from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation on the number of schools and colleges located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends. We will carefully consider the recommendations in the Prevention of Future Deaths report and respond in due course.

We know that air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and although air pollution has reduced significantly over the last decade, there is more to do. The World Health Organization has praised our Clean Air Strategy as "an example for the rest of the world to follow". We know there is a strong case for taking ambitious action on PM2.5 as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health. That is why we are introducing a duty to set a PM2.5 target – alongside at least one additional long-term air quality target - in the Environment Bill. We have always been clear that we will consider the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5 at part of this process.

Defra provides a wide range of air quality data and air quality information on the online UK Air Information Resource, known as UK-AIR, including a five-day forecast from the Met Office on predicted air pollution levels, allowing members of the public, particularly those who are most likely to be affected by such pollution, to take action. UK-AIR also provides the most up-to-date information on measured pollution levels via the national network of air pollution monitors and provides Public Health England advice on practical actions and steps people can take to minimise the impact of these events. However, it is clear that there is a lack of awareness about the availability of this information and we need to consider how to address this.

Evidence submitted to the Coroner to assist his inquiry cannot be disclosed without his permission. We will work with the Coroner to consider what evidence can be published with the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

We welcome Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) report and senior officers recently met with Asthma UK and the BLF to discuss its findings and wider air quality issues.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
28 Apr 2021

Questioner: Ruth Jones (LAB - Newport West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of schools that are located in areas with fine particulate matter over levels recommended by the World Health Organisation; and what steps he is taking to protect pupils from air pollution.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The Department has made no such specific estimate as local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans.

If there was concern about the air quality in a school building, it would fall to the body responsible for the school to check and establish what measures needed to be taken to improve air quality. This would generally be the local authority, academy trust or governing body.

In 2018, the Department published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), establishing guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

The Department is collaborating with other government departments and several academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.


Written Question
Motor Vehicles: Exhaust Emissions
2 Feb 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to assess in which areas of the UK roadside air pollution is most prevalent and dangerous; and what steps he is taking with local authorities to tackle air pollution in those areas.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The 2017 UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations outlines how local authorities with persistent NO2 exceedances, identified using national modelling, must take robust action to improve air quality. We are working closely with these local authorities and making £880m of funding available to deliver compliance with NO2 levels as soon as possible.

Local authorities are also required to review and assess local air quality. If their assessment shows that local pollution levels exceed local air quality objectives they must declare an Air Quality Management Area and develop an Air Quality Action Plan with the aim of reducing air pollution to within statutory limits.

Local authorities have a range of powers to take action to reduce pollution from road vehicles, such as restricting car access around schools and enforcing anti-idling laws. In addition, Defra’s Air Quality Grant programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution. The Government has awarded over £64 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997.


Written Question
Primary Education: Air Pollution
22 Jan 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on providing support to primary schools for air quality level monitoring.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

In delivering against our ambitious air quality commitments, Defra regularly holds discussions with Ministers and officials across Government departments.

Local authorities have statutory duties to review and assess local air quality and, where appropriate, declare Air Quality Management Areas and put in place action plans to address local pollution issues. Defra provides guidance and support to local authorities on local monitoring.

Positioning of local monitors is determined by local authorities and expected to be in line with national and local priorities, which may include schools and other locations where there is high risk of public exposure to air pollutants.

Local authorities are expected to cover the costs of their monitoring through their Grant in Aid funding allocation. In addition, over £1 million of Defra’s 2018/19 Air Quality Grant was reserved for local authorities to pilot and evaluate low cost sensors, including £180,000 which was awarded to Islington Borough Council, Slough Borough Council and Wakefield Metropolitan District Council to undertake projects focused on monitoring air quality in and around schools.


Written Question
Air Pollution: Health Education
19 Jan 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the importance of (a) air quality and (b) the associated health effects of air pollution are being taught in schools.

Answered by Nick Gibb

There is scope within the geography and science curriculums, and within PSHE, for teachers and schools to teach these topics.

In geography, the purpose of study is to equip pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, and at Key Stage 3, pupils should be taught to “understand how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate” and also the topic of “population and urbanisation”. This is further built upon at GCSE.

In science, pupils in primary schools are taught topics such as changing environments, plants, and different sorts of materials, which will enable them to understand about pollution later on. In the biology content at Key Stage 3, pupils should be taught about “Relationships in an ecosystem” and “how organisms affect, and are affected by, their environment, including the accumulation of toxic materials”. At GCSE, teaching in the sciences continues with the process of building upon and deepening scientific knowledge and the understanding of ideas developed in earlier key stages in the subject disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Within chemistry, pupils should be taught about “potential effects of, and mitigation of, increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane on the Earth’s climate; and common atmospheric pollutants: sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulates and their sources”.

The Government wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe and has introduced compulsory health education in all primary and secondary state funded schools. The focus of health education is on teaching the characteristics of good physical health and mental wellbeing. The Department has published a package of support to help all teachers increase their confidence and quality of teaching, including in relation to teaching health and prevention and physical health and fitness. The support is available on a one stop page for teachers on GOV.UK and includes access to training delivered through regional Teaching School networks: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-relationships-sex-and-health.


Written Question
Air Pollution: Curriculum
25 Nov 2020

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the incorporation of air quality within the national curriculum.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Air pollution poses the biggest environmental threat to public health and improving air quality remains a top priority for the Government. In delivering against our challenging air quality commitments, we regularly hold discussions with Ministers and officials across Government departments, including the Department for Education. We have had no specific discussions on the incorporation of air quality within the national curriculum.

Defra's Air Quality Grant Scheme has provided funding to local authorities to undertake projects focused on schools. Last year's scheme awarded nearly £500,000 to Blaby District Council, East Sussex County Council, Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority and Wokingham Borough Council to undertake education and awareness projects in schools to encourage behaviour change such as active travel.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
17 Nov 2020

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether schools are encouraged to develop individual clean air plans; and if so, how they incentivise the development of such plans.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

Local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans. Concerns regarding the air quality in school buildings fall to the body responsible for the school to check and establish what measures need to be taken to improve air quality.

In 2018, the department published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which contains guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

The department is collaborating with other government departments and a number of academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.


Written Question
Air Pollution: Coventry
9 Nov 2020

Questioner: Colleen Fletcher (LAB - Coventry North East)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of air quality around schools in Coventry.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Local authorities are required to review and assess local air quality and to take action where there are high levels of air pollution. Local authorities have discretionary powers to restrict car access to schools and enforce anti-idling laws outside schools.

The Government’s Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions which may include action targeting schools. The Government has awarded over £64 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997.

The Government has put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide roadside emissions. Our Clean Air Strategy sets out measures we are taking to improve air quality and reduce emissions of pollution, improving public health.


Written Question
Pollution Control: Wakefield
23 Oct 2020

Questioner: Imran Ahmad Khan (CON - Wakefield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle air pollution in Wakefield constituency.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Local authorities are required to review and assess local air quality and to take action where there are high levels of air pollution. The Government's Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions which may include action targeting schools. The Government has awarded over £64 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997, including £3 million in 2018/19.

In 2018 Wakefield received from the Air Quality Grant £27,131.27 for a targeted extension of the “Eco stars scheme” to reduce diesel fuel consumption in commercial vehicle fleets through fleet management and efficient driving, and a further £61,604.33 for NO2 and PM10 sensors placed at 24 schools to measure air quality.

The Government has put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions. Our Clean Air Strategy sets out measures we are taking to improve air quality and reduce emissions of pollution, improving public health. This includes being the first major economy to set goals working towards World Health Organization recommendations on particulate matter emissions.

We are bringing forward primary legislation on clean air, giving local government powers to take decisive action in areas with an air pollution problem.


Written Question
Air Pollution: Greater London
22 Oct 2020

Questioner: Gareth Thomas (LAB - Harrow West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of levels of air pollution in areas surrounding schools in (a) Harrow West and (b) London; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The Mayor of London is responsible for air quality in the capital and has reserve powers under the 1995 Environment Act to enable this.

Local authorities are required to review and assess local air quality and to take action where there are high levels of air pollution. Local authorities have discretionary powers to restrict car access to schools and enforce anti-idling laws outside schools.

The Government’s Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions which may include action targeting schools. The Government has awarded over £64 million in funding since the air quality grant started in 1997.

The Government has put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions. Our Clean Air Strategy sets out measures we are taking to improve air quality and reduce emissions of pollution, improving public health.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
20 Oct 2020

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to incentivise schools to install air quality monitors.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans. If there was concern about the air quality in a school building, it would fall to the body responsible for the school to check that and establish what measures needed to be taken to improve air quality.

In 2018, the Department for Education published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which is guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

The Department is collaborating with other government departments and a number of academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.

The Department does not hold data on the proportion of primary or secondary schools with air quality monitors installed.

We will be considering with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether and how schools might be encouraged to take part in Clean Air Day in future years.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
20 Oct 2020

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to encourage (a) primary and (b) secondary schools to take part in Clean Air Day in future years.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans. If there was concern about the air quality in a school building, it would fall to the body responsible for the school to check that and establish what measures needed to be taken to improve air quality.

In 2018, the Department for Education published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which is guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

The Department is collaborating with other government departments and a number of academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.

The Department does not hold data on the proportion of primary or secondary schools with air quality monitors installed.

We will be considering with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether and how schools might be encouraged to take part in Clean Air Day in future years.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
20 Oct 2020

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools that have air quality monitors installed.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Local authorities are responsible for air quality in their area and must ensure that it meets the standards set in local air quality action plans. If there was concern about the air quality in a school building, it would fall to the body responsible for the school to check that and establish what measures needed to be taken to improve air quality.

In 2018, the Department for Education published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which is guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

The Department is collaborating with other government departments and a number of academic institutions on air quality projects. The findings from these projects will, in due course, inform our guidance and standards for school buildings.

The Department does not hold data on the proportion of primary or secondary schools with air quality monitors installed.

We will be considering with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether and how schools might be encouraged to take part in Clean Air Day in future years.


Written Question
Schools: Air Pollution
22 Jul 2020

Questioner: Geraint Davies (LAB - Swansea West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to issue an update of the Building Bulletin 101:'Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools for (a) BS EN ISO 16890:2016, (b) BS EN ISO 10121-2:2013 and (c) BS EN 16798-3:2017.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The design and construction standards for new school buildings are under regular review to reflect any changes in regulations or best practice nationally. There are no plans at present to update Building Bulletin 101 'Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools' which was published in 2019.

We published guidance on 3 June on the reopening of buildings and campuses to help providers make informed decisions about their provision in ways that protect the health and well-being of both staff and students. Our guidance contains links to other sources of relevant advice, including on safer workplaces: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19, which includes references to the importance of ventilation, particularly in advance of reopening buildings.


Written Question
Air Pollution: Schools
20 Jul 2020

Questioner: Geraint Davies (LAB - Swansea West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to plant protective hedges around schools to reduce air pollution in schools.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

To support local authorities in their work to tackle air pollution hotspots, this Government has given a great deal of thought to the role that vegetation might play in improving air quality. The Air Quality Expert Group published a report named Impacts of Vegetation on Urban Air Pollution which is available to read here:

https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat09/1807251306_180509_Effects_of_vegetation_on_urban_air_pollution_v12_final.pdf

The key conclusion is that while vegetation might bring some highly localised benefits to air quality, it will not be a solution at a city scale. In the context of a school perimeter, there is little evidence to support vegetation reducing nitrogen oxides from exhausts and while significant amounts of foliage might provide a localised barrier effect to reduce particulate levels from the roadside, the effectiveness of these measures is unclear.

This is why the emphasis of our Clean Air Strategy is to tackle the sources of pollution levels as the most effective way to improve air quality for all.