It’s on an industrial estate – what’s the problem?
It is on an industrial estate that has been zoned for B1 or light industrial use. This is a category for businesses that can operate without causing harm or disruption to people living, working or learning on the surrounding land. To operate a 24/7 distribution depot Ocado will need the land to be re-categorised as B8 (warehousing and distribution). This category exists as a separate category on its own because the law and planning system recognise that these depots are loud, polluting and disruptive to those nearby. We are only just starting to recognise the the harmful effects of air and other types of pollution, what we are finding is that the biggest harm is to the smallest and most vulnerable – young children.
Ocado have said they’ll use electric vans. Doesn’t this make it all okay?
No! Ocado can say whatever they want but it isn’t legally enforceable. Despite their greenwash marketing Ocado currently only have a tiny percentage of electric vans in their entire fleet. We know there are technical issues with fully electric refrigerated vans, it’s much more complicated than electrifiying a fleet of non-refrigerated vans. Ocado have said they will write this down in a legal document. This is called a Unilateral Undertaking and is basically a contract between Ocado and the land (no one else is involved). The problem is that to actually enforce it Islington Council would have to take Ocado to the High Court at great expense which means its not really worth the paper it’s written on.
We also don’t believe that Ocado should be able to write their own conditions of operation without anyone else seeing the impact assessments. Remember this is about the use of land adjacent to a nursery and primary school, the health and education of hundreds of little children is at stake. Ocado put in a planning application for a diesel tank and three diesel pumps, not to mention a smoking shelter on the boundary with the nursery playground. We aren’t interested in them writing their own conditions.