High Court prioritised children’s health over polluting online distribution centre
Ocado loses battle to build depot next to primary school
The Nocado campaign is delighted and relieved at today’s High Court judgment which confirms Ocado Retail is not permitted to build a new 24/7 distribution centre next to a primary school. The judgment confirms that Ocado and its landlord Telereal made false and misleading statements in their attempt to unlawfully build a new 24/7 distribution depot next to Yerbury Primary School.
The result of this landmark Judicial Review carries significant implications for communities nationwide facing similar serious public health concerns with the rise of online retail depots. The verdict today is a victory for community, council and children’s rights over powerful corporate interests, in this case Ocado and Marks & Spencer, who own 50% of Ocado’s retail arm.
Ocado has stated its intention to open 12 local distribution centres alone in London this
year. The High Court’s support for the Council’s decision, is a damaging blow to Ocado’s broader strategy to develop its ‘Zoom’ one-hour delivery service.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past year and a half and to the half a thousand people who have donated to our fundraisers, we could not have done this without you.
Serious questions must now be asked about Ocado and Marks & Spencer’s Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) and their professed commitment to community engagement. The Ocado Retail Group has misled and withheld information over the 18 month campaign, avoided transparent engagement or consultation with the community, and tried to subvert the planning system.
More recently Ocado has made disingenuous claims to make the site ‘the greenest fulfilment centre in the UK’. While Ocado dropped their initial plans for operating three diesel refueling pumps at the depot, their claims to electrify the site are neither viable nor enforceable. Only 1% of Ocado’s total delivery fleet is currently electric, a pitiful 17 vans nationwide, and CEO Tim Steiner, has publicly stated short-term and long-term challenges including issues with capacity and scalability.
Natasha Cox, parent of the affected school and campaigner said:
“Today is a landmark victory for common sense and the rights of communities. The verdict of Mr Justice Holgate sets a rightful precedent for prioritising children’s health over the growth of online deliveries. There is a place for distribution centres but it is not a skipping rope away from primary school classrooms.”
Cassie Moss, headteacher of Yerbury Primary School said:
“The children, parents and residents in the community are delighted with today’s High Court judgment which vindicates the Council’s decision to stop Ocado opening an unlawful depot next to our primary school.
“Ocado can make as many attempts to greenwash the community as they like but ultimately this type of facility has no place next to schools and homes. As the children have said all along, Ocado can find another site, we can’t find another school.”
Andrew Grieve, Senior Air Quality Analyst at Imperial College London said:
“A company that is prepared to pollute children in their playground and drag parents and residents through the court to do it has no place in ours or any other community. We hope this judgment sets a precedent in putting public health above corporate interests given the weight of evidence showing the impact of air pollution on children’s physical and cognitive development.”
David Zell, finance liaison and campaigner said:
“Our community campaigning group was told many times throughout this campaign that we
could not “win” against a company as powerful as Ocado. Ocado has forced us, the
community, to raise tens of thousands of pounds to defend ourselves in court. We were
spurred on by the need to protect our children’s and our neighbours’ health and to defend
the amenity of our area – by correctly applying existing law.”
The NOcado Campaign group now urges Ocado not to continue to fight the community and Council by appealing this decision and to respect this judgment.
The campaigning group will now turn its attention to lobbying for changes to planning law to prevent corporations like Ocado abusing the planning system. Given the high profile of this case, the group has secured backing to fund a legacy programme to ensure that no other community has to go through this in the future.
Press enquiries to Fenella Grey – 07740701002