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Ocado says it has reached agreement to electrify delivery fleet at controversial site

The company has written to the council after securing a 'significant' power upgrade

01 June, 2020 — By by Sam Ferguson

‘Nocado’ protesters pictured in Whittington Park 

FOOD delivery company Ocado says it has secured a “significant” power upgrade that would allow it to run a fleet of electric vans from the distribution hub it wants to build next door to a primary school.

Ocado had come under fire for its original plans for the Bush Industrial Estate site near Archway, which included a diesel refuelling station and facilities for up to 100 vans making two trips a day, just metres from Yerbury Primary School.

Criticisms centred around the environmental impact the plans could have, as well as safety concerns for school children and the community.

With pressure mounting, the food delivery giants unveiled plans in January to run a fully electric fleet from the site, without the need for the diesel pumps. To do this it needed the agreement of UK Power Networks (UKPN) before they could submit fresh plans to the Town Hall.

With that agreement now secured, the company will now have to submit a fresh application. It’s understood that application will not include the diesel pumps, but will include the infrastructure needed to run a 100 per cent electric delivery fleet.

It’s also understood the new application will include an entrance at the Junction Road end of the estate, and a “green wall” hedge between the site and the school.

Ocado wrote to Islington council last week outlining these changes after they reached an agreement with UKPN.

A spokeswoman or the company told the Tribune“After listening to the concerns of the local community we are revising our proposals for our spoke facility at the Bush Industrial Estate.

“This includes accelerating our plans to operate the site with 100% electric Ocado vans, from its outset. This will see us invest in one of the largest electric van fleets in the country which will revolutionise the way we deliver groceries in the borough and mean that our overall emissions in Islington and the surrounding areas will fall.”

The council confirmed it had received Ocado’s letter, and said it was now “considering its position”.

Any changes to the current plan, which still includes diesel pumps, would need to go through another round of public consultation and planning scrutiny.

Islington council leader Richard Watts and MP Jeremy Corbyn have both previously criticised the plans.

Speaking to the Tribune today (Monday), Cllr Watts said the council had a “range of other concerns” about the application.

“I welcome the fact that Ocado has clearly listened to the vast concern there is from us and the wider community about having diesel vehicles around the site, which was clearly utterly inappropriate,” he said.

“However there are a range of other concerns we and the community have. We are now considering our position before responding to Ocado’s letter.”

After the initial plans were submitted, local community members and parents of Yerbury Primary children formed the ‘Nocado’ protest group.

Nocado is raising money for a legal challenge. The group says it has tabled a submission to the Town Hall, in which it questions the legitimacy of the site’s storage and distribution status.

A “lawful development certificate” was granted to the site’s landlords Telereal Trillium after a change of usage application was signed off by council officers in April last year.

This application laid out Telereal’s legal argument that the site had always been used for distribution and storage, and was passed with no conditions.

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