Children in the New Millennium: Environmental Impact on Health provides evidence of the threat posed by environmental degradation, which gives rise to a number of diseases, including diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections – two of the leading causes of child mortality. The report also identifies other environmental problems directly affecting children, such as high levels of toxic chemicals and the degradation and depletion of natural resources. Lead in the environment – much of it from leaded gasoline – causes permanent neurological and developmental disorders, while millions of children working in agriculture are at high risk of pesticide poisoning. Children are also disproportionately vulnerable to global environmental problems, such as the impact of climate change, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the loss of the planet’s biological diversity. The 140-page report, jointly produced by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), was released in conjunction with the three-day General Assembly special session on children, which opened in New York on Wednesday.”Far too many children are dying from diseases that can be prevented through access to clean water and sanitation,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. Echoing this concern, WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland stressed that people were most vulnerable in their early years. “This means that children must be at the centre of our response to unhealthy environments,” she said.For his part, Klaus Töpfer, the UNEP Executive Director, called for international action in response to the problem. “We should recognize that realizing children’s rights and managing environmental challenges are mutually reinforcing goals,” he said, voicing hope that the new study would inspire decisive action to improve both the health and environment of children.
Police were facing questions about the speed of their response, after no initial efforts were made to move the camp Credit:Eddie Mitchell “They were going along the middle of the lawns at around 20-25 miles per hour – it is not crowded on the lawn today but it is not something to be advised.“There is no sign of any police presence at all at the moment. They have very much taken it over down that end.“I think they knew what they were doing, the bulk of them arrived on a Saturday when there is no chance of getting a court order to remove them straight away.“We have had trouble with them before, with kids trying to nick things and rampaging through the tables – it is not something we look forward to.” Travellers in caravans have set up camp on the protected lawns of Hove’s seafront to the irritation of nearby businesses, who complained little effort was being made to evict them. Around 50 caravans and motorhomes gradually began to “take over” the Hove Lawns on Saturday and cars have since been seen driving at speed along the grass.The occupants were said to be Irish travellers, groups of whom caused similar trouble last summer after parking further along the promenade. The mile-long stretch of green space fringing the Brighton seafront is afforded special legal protection to stop it being occupied by vehicles. Under the protection order, any “vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure” should be removed by the police after 12 hours, once they are given the authority by the council.However, one business owner on the seafront said the arrival of the travellers appeared to have been timed to ensure it was after offices and courts had closed for the weekend. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on Sunday afternoon, he claimed there had been no obvious attempt to disturb the encampment since it had appeared more than a day earlier.The businessman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We had some young lads driving straight across the lawns, obviously that is not supposed to happen. Individuals have been seen camping and parking on the grass in recent months, largely due to the city’s homelessness problem, residents claimed.Travellers have similarly parked on the main road near the promenade before.Pictures showed the usually picturesque lawns strewn with litter, with the caravans and motorhomes parked in two parallel lines.One onlooker said several of the vehicles were not displaying number plates, while several others appeared to have plates from overseas. A councillor in the area expressed anger at the lack of action taken by authorities against the invasion.Dawn Barnett, a Conservative, said: “It is a public space. If I were to go and park my car at Preston Park or Queens Park or anywhere else, I guarantee it would be moved within 12 hours.”One man who had already endured several encounters with the children of the traveller encampment said: “It’s relatively peaceful, just a bit irritating.”Sussex Police said they were aware of the problem and were waiting on the council to authorise any further action.Brighton and Hove Council did not respond to a request for comment. Groups of children aged between 11 and 12 were said to have been pestering neighbouring businesses by using distraction tactics to steal food. A member of staff at a different business said: “They have been trying to take some food from here, they have been taking ketchup too. They have been leaving a mess in the toilet – customers are complaining.”While the traveller camp is perhaps the most egregious example of the protection order being flouted in recent years, it is not the first. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.