Battle For Clean Air is Sending Our Gardens To New Heights

Sourced from The Guardian

When Andrea Carnevali’s son started at St Mary’s Catholic primary school in Chiswick he was alarmed to find that pupils were sometimes kept indoors at break times, despite a large playground.

The reason was the nearby six-lane A4 road, which has up to 100,000 vehicles thundering past the school each day. As evidence mounted about the impact of poor air quality on children’s health, the headteacher restricted time outside.

Carnevali and other parents decided to take action. Within months they had crowdfunded almost £100,000, and last month a 126-metre “living wall” of 12,000 plants was installed as part of a clean-air initiative at the school. They hope the wall – designed to trap exhaust particles, absorb sound and increase biodiversity – will transform one of London’s most polluted schools into one of its greenest.

“We’re immensely pleased,” said Carnevali. “The council is monitoring changes in air quality, and we hope for a 40% improvement – but even 10% would be good.”

St Mary’s living wall is one of many being installed around the country by local authorities and private developers. Tennis fans may have noticed two enormous living walls flanking the giant outdoor screen at this year’s Wimbledon championships.

And they are increasingly a feature of hotel and retail developments. A stunning vertical garden graces Elephant & Castle underground station in south London, part of a plan to improve air quality at one of the capital’s busiest road intersections.

In a variation on a theme, “living lamp-posts” were installed this month as a trial in Ebury Street in Belgravia, central London. They will be monitored for air quality improvement for a year; if the pilot is successful, it could be extended to some of the other estimated 494,000 lamp-posts in central London.

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