Waltham Forest Council has called on the Government to act more quickly when tackling air pollution.

Earlier this week the Government announced its national Clean Air Strategy, but the council has asked parliament to go further and stop what it calls “the invisible public health crisis that is gripping the country”.

The Enjoy Waltham Forest or Mini Holland changes made throughout the borough were designed by the council to improve air quality and those living in the area have been encouraged to make better use of public transport links.

Classes in the borough’s schools have also aimed to educate children about transport options and the importance of clean air and anti-idling initiatives have been run outside school gates to get parents to switch off their engines and prevent fumes nearby.

Last week the authority installed a ‘green wall’ outside Woodside Primary Academy in Wood Street, Walthamstow with funding from the government to help block pollutants from entering the school playground.

It is thought this green wall could block the amount of pollution getting to the school by up to 22 per cent.

Shane Tewes, headteacher of Woodside Primary Academy, said: “One of the issues for the school has always been air quality in the playground. We have worked with the council to apply for funding for these new green walls and we are delighted that we have been successful.

“Parents are commenting on how impressive it looks, how it provides privacy for our children and they can see how it is going to improve the air quality in the playground.”

Last year a report the council commissioned from King’s College London showed that the council’s efforts to reduce air pollution had resulted in an increased life expectancy among children of at least six weeks.

Following the Government’s announcement of its new Clean Air Strategy on Monday, Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy council leader and cabinet member for the environment, said: “We have been waiting a long time for the Government to show initiative to tackle the health crisis created by our poor air quality. This announcement is simply just words, that have been years in the making.

“There are no real commitments or initiatives starting immediately which will help make these aims a reality and it completely ignores the impact of motorised transport on the air that we breathe.

“Air pollution is a crisis now, not one of the future. In Waltham Forest alone around 270 people die every year from illnesses connected to air pollution. This is why we have been ensuring we look at all the many options available to us to help improve the lives of our residents from redesigning roads, to supporting the use of more sustainable modes of transport and working with our youngest residents to help them make walking or riding a bike a healthy travel habit for life, not just for childhood.”

The deputy leader added that he believes stronger policies need to be handed down to local authorities by the government and more money and resources need to be made available to support those policies, something he says was “avoided” in this week’s announcement.

Cllr Loakes added: “To be clear we need a new Clean Air Act, a national diesel scrappage scheme and new robust legislation, for example on idling, that enables delivery and improvements now, not in 2040, when even more current and future residents will have been impacted by poor air quality.”