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Ocado delivery depot ‘plans to go all electric’

Online supermarket offers to replace diesel vehicles with eco-friendly vans

24 January, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

The demonstration by parents and children in Whittington Park on Wednesday

ENVIRONMENTAL activists have called for people to boycott food delivery giant Ocado to show opposition to their planned diesel refuelling depot and delivery hub.

As previously reported, the online supermarket has submitted a planning application to build a delivery depot on the Bush Industrial Estate in Archway, next door to Yerbury Primary School.

The Tribune understands that around 100 delivery vans could use the site in two rotations every day. On top of this, Ocado could also use the site as a hub for their new “Zoom” service, offering one-hour deliveries.

This week, Ocado sent a letter to Islington Council leader Richard Watts, offering certain commitments for the site it says could cut emissions across the borough as a whole.

These include a commitment to not use any diesel LGVs at the site, and to replace all the diesel delivery vans with electric vans if they can attain a “significant power upgrade” at the site.


Children protest against the proposed depot

The company added they would “consider dropping” the addition of diesel pumps to the site, if the council were not reasonably satisfied with their usage, as they “did not need them” to operate from the industrial estate.

But, responding to the letter, Cllr Watts told the Tribune: “While I welcome Ocado getting into a dialogue about their plans, the proposals they make go nowhere near far enough to address the concerns of the council and the community. We are still considering our detailed response to the letter.”

Yerbury Primary School’s headteacher Cassie Moss said: “After a month of silence, this is an interesting development and we are glad that Ocado recognise the danger of their original plans.

“If it is technically and financially viable to run a fully-electric fleet by the time the delivery depot opens, then that is good news. However, the devil is in the detail – and we await the council’s analysis of Ocado’s proposals and how they might be enforced.”

As the Tribune revealed last week, it is thought Ocado, which has signed a lease with site owners Telereal Trillium, don’t need planning permission to use the site as a delivery depot under permitted development laws.

A campaign group, named “Nocado”, has attracted members from across the borough, demanding Ocado pull back on plans for the site.

At the time of writing, an online petition had gathered more than 3,500 signatures, and this week around 60 parents and children turned out in Whittington Park to protest the plans.

Meanwhile 10 schools in the area have issued a joint statement, signed by headteachers and executive head teachers, asking Ocado to “do the right thing” and withdraw their plans.

Helena Farstead, who campaigns with groups such as Islington Clean Air Parents, Fossil Free Islington and XR Islington, has called for people in Islington to write to Ocado and ask them to reconsider.

“The fact that Ocado is even considering building this site next to a primary school is insane,” said Ms Farstead. “If anybody in Islington is using Ocado, they should stop immediately, and write to them asking that they stop building on this site.”

Chair of Tufnell Park Parents group and former Green Party council candidate Natasha Cox said Ocado should think about the impact the site will have on the community.

“Whatever infrastructure we put in place now we’re going to have to live with for years,” she said. “It will dictate the future health and safety of our community and we have to really think carefully about this. This isn’t the place for this development.”

The chief executive of Whittington Park community centre, Ann Mason, questioned whether Ocado’s Zoom service would put extra pressure on businesses in the area.

“We are extremely concerned,” she said. “What about the impact on local businesses, who are already struggling?

“This is the second biggest park in Islington, and we’ve always thought of it as the communities lungs. We haven’t had any official information, which is surprising considering we border the site.”

Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn met with Ocado executives earlier this month to discuss the plans, which he said were “detrimental to the health and well being” of pupils and residents.

“Our first priority must be the health and well-being of our children and protecting them from the harmful impact of pollution, particularly in inner-city areas already blighted by poor air quality,” Mr Corbyn said.

In order to tackle the climate and environment emergency declared both by parliament and Islington Council and meet our 2030 net zero carbon commitment we must all take collective responsibility to reduce emissions and create a cleaner, greener and more sustainable environment.

“Ocado introducing more highly polluting diesel vehicles onto the streets surrounding a primary school runs counter to these commitments and will be detrimental to the health and well-being of children and staff at Yerbury Primary School as well as local residents.

“I will continue to work with Islington Council, Yerbury Primary School, parents and concerned constituents to ensure that we reduce carbon emissions in our borough, not the opposite.”

A spokesman for Ocado said: “Having listened carefully to the concerns of Islington Council, Yerbury Primary School, and other local stakeholders, we have put forward a number of commitments to Islington Council in order to minimise any impact from emissions on local people and, especially, the children of Yerbury Primary School.

“Our proposals include plans to significantly increase the power supply to the site which will enable us to stop using diesel vans and deploy the largest fleet of electric vans at any Ocado site in the country.”

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