Brendan O’Hara MP has recently paid tribute to the ‘Healthy Air for Every Child’ display at Westminster, which was supported by nine local schools right across Argyll and Bute as part of their UNICEF ‘OUTRIGHT’ schools programme.
Unicef UK analysis has found that millions of children across the UK are living in areas with unsafe levels of air pollution; breathing in toxic air which is having a long-lasting impact on their health.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the fundamental rights that all children should have, regardless of their background or circumstances, so that every child is able to develop to their full potential. Within the UNCRC every child has the right to grow up healthy and thrive in a clean and safe environment (Article 24), a critical requirement for every child to grow, develop and learn to their full potential.
Responding, Brendan O’Hara MP said:
“Today, I have tabled a question to the UK Government to ask them “what assessment they have made of the economic impact of air pollution on vulnerable groups such as children who are disproportionately affected by toxic air in areas where they live, learn and play?”.
“Nine schools[i] in Argyll and Bute are already part of the ‘Outright’ campaign and are actively campaigning for the rights of children and I am immensely proud of their awareness of the risks of air pollution specifically to children.”
“Although I am challenging the UK Government, air quality is already devolved to the Scottish Government, who have already launched their air quality strategy titled ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland – the road to a Healthier Future’. “
Scottish government ministers recently ordered a review of the country’s air quality strategy. This was led by an expert in environmental policy, Professor Campbell Gemmell who has acknowledged the significant improvements already in Scotland.
Despite this, poor air quality remains an issue in a number of towns and cities across Scotland and effective change is needed now so that all of us can breathe clean air and lead healthy lives in the future.
Brendan O’Hara added: “The Scottish Governments ambition is that Scotland’s air quality is to be the best in Europe and I look forward to that ambition being realised. The Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy contains forty aims to realise this goal. We now need the UK Government to adopt the same levels of ambition.”
The World Health Organisation have recommended limit values for air pollution, the Scottish Government have adopted these values as one part of their action in this strategy.
The Scottish Government has also announced significant additional funding which will support the work of Cleaner Air for Scotland. £10.8 million has been provided to support the introduction of Low Emission Zones during 2018/19 along with £0.75 million to support local authorities with Air Quality Management Areas to develop transport-based actions.
Brendan O’Hara MP added:
“The active campaigning by so many of our local schools has undoubtedly had an impact on recognising the serious consequences of air pollution and I hope their efforts are recognised at Westminster for the good of all our young people across all four corners of the UK”.
[i] Outright Campaign schools include: Ulva Primary School, Hermitage Primary School, Hermitage Academy, Rosneath Primary School, Campbeltown Grammar School, Lomond School, Sandbank Primary School, Dunoon Primary School and Dunoon Grammar School