Ocado depot near primary school is ‘risking children’s lives’ say parents

Parents are battling to stop a new online delivery depot opening next to a primary school – as home delivery giants go to war.

Ocado has been accused of risking children’s lives as it steps up its battle to match Amazon’s Prime Now service to drop off food to homes within an hour.

The Zoom site will use 100 vans to ferry goods to customers. And similar city depots are expected across Britain.

But parents fear toxic fumes from idling vehicles queuing to load up at Ocado’s first dedicated UK Zoom site in Islington, North London, will pour into the playground.

It will even have its own diesel pumps.

Mum Natasha Cox, whose 11-year-old daughter has severe asthma, said: “You wouldn’t get planning permission to build a school next to a diesel facility – but apparently the reverse is possible.

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And she alleged: “Air pollution at the school is already just under the legal limit, but could tip over if it [the depot] went ahead.”

Air quality analyst Andrew Grieve, who has children at Yerbury Primary –which is close to London’s busy and polluted Holloway Road section of the A1 – added: “The children will be 30 metres from the pumps.

“Research in Spain shows there is a six times higher than normal incidence of tumours if you live within 50m of a petrol station.”

Parents have already staged a ‘Nocado’ protest at the site where work has begun and Ocado officials were blasted at a heated meeting held at the school.

Executive director Neill Abrams said diesel pumps were not “essential” but it was “environmentally less friendly” for Ocado vans to refuel elsewhere.

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The firm, which turned over £1.5billion in 2018, later claimed electric vans would be used, but it did not know when. Ocado’s Zoom service has already been trialled in Acton, West London.

People in a 5km radius of its warehouse can order a minimum £15 basket delivered in an hour. Ocado plans to build up to 50 more in “really tight urban locations”.

It said: “We have made commitments to minimise emissions.

"Our plans include increasing the power supply to the site for an all-electric fleet.”

James Hepburn, an environmental engineer and school parent, said Ocado should only put the site into operation when fully electrified.

The issue has been highlighted by the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, the first to be linked to illegal levels of air pollution – in South London.

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