Air pollution fears over £150m 'Amazon' warehouse in East Yorkshire

Concerns are being raised about the impact on health from “invisible” air pollution from thousands of extra vehicles going to a proposed warehouse and distribution centre in East Yorkshire.

Objectors: left to right Councillor Julie Abraham, GP Dr Robert Mitchell, Councillor Vanessa Walker, residents Julie and Stewart Bentley with their dog Alfie, and Sam Quelch, with daughter Fearne Collingwood Picture James Hardisty
Objectors: left to right Councillor Julie Abraham, GP Dr Robert Mitchell, Councillor Vanessa Walker, residents Julie and Stewart Bentley with their dog Alfie, and Sam Quelch, with daughter Fearne Collingwood Picture James Hardisty

More than 800 objections have been made over plans by the Wykeland Group for the massive £150m “global retail logistics facility”, believed to be for Amazon, next to Long Plantation in North Ferriby.

Some residents, local GP of 30 years Robert Mitchell and consultant cardiologist Dr Simon Thackray are worried that extra traffic coming to the site from the A63 will add to already high levels of pollution in the area.

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Dr Thackray, who lives locally and has objected to the plans, said it would be “inappropriate” if planners do not consider a landmark ruling by a coroner that air pollution made a “material contribution” to nine-year-old Londoner Ella Kissi-Debra’s death.

The site is bordered by Long Plantation to the left, the route of the long distance walking trail, the Wolds Way

He claims the development will lead to an “immediate and persistent” increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, with an increase in mortality and people suffering heart attacks and strokes “focussed but not limited” to residents in North Ferriby, Welton and Elloughton.

Coronary heart disease is almost 50 per cent higher in East Yorkshire than the England rate.

He warned that the development will affect children at schools like South Hunsley School, just off the A63, over their lifetime, with the affects not showing up until their 50s or 60s.

Dr Thackray, the clinical lead for cardiology for the Humber, Coast and Vale clinical network, said the impact on society and the cost of dealing with the illnesses - which will last until trucks go electric - should be balanced against the scheme's projected economic gains.

Residents are concerned that exactly the same-size facility as the Amazon building in Bowburn will be put on the site at North Ferriby

He said: “Air pollution is invisible and very under-recognised - it doesn’t have the same in-your-face impact as cigarette smoking. It has been the hidden risk factor, but it is getting worse.

“The entire business model is HGVs coming and leaving. They pump out lots of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates.”

In October, planners approved a 123,000 sq ft “last mile” facility on a neighbouring plot, generating 1,232 daily vehicle movements - mostly cars, vans and a few lorries.

The latest application will create 2,288 movements, mostly lorries and cars.

Dr Mitchell is particularly concerned because it is so close to South Hunsley school, and said: “It stands to reason if you have X thousand more vehicles then the air quality is going to deteriorate. When there’s traffic jams, or accidents and tail-backs, there’s increased air pollution, unless they all turn their engines off.”

Joanne Arro’s nine-year-old son will walk to school in a year’s time past the site and also receptors which already record nitrogen dioxide above air quality target levels.

Mrs Arro, who works in public health, said: “I’m concerned about the air quality levels and what they are at the moment, let alone if this is passed and we have extra pollution. There’s many children in the village with asthma and that’s a real concern.”

Many locals have said they would be far happier if the site was developed in a similar way to the rest of Melton West, which has become the home for companies including shower maker Kohler Mira, Heron Foods and most recently Browns Books.

Developers Wykeland has not confirmed or denied that Plot E will be an Amazon warehouse. But locals say the model being developed for North Ferriby is exactly the same as the one off the A1 near Bowburn.

Esther Damary-George said they were concerned the village would become a "rat run" for drivers looking for somewhere to park up for a rest period.

Residents in Bowburn have complained of noise and pollution blighting their lives, with drivers discarding fast food packaging, bottles full of urine and used wipes.

She said: "What we have heard from Haydock and Hoo (where there are Amazon warehouses) is that they are third party hauliers and they are not allowed onto the site unless they are ready to drop off.

"We know other communities where lorries have been queuing for three miles. We don't have three miles of road to queue on.

"I understand there's a need for economic development, I just think there has to be a better way rather than destroying people's lives."

Wykeland Group said the development was “hugely important” to the region’s economy, creating as many as 1,500 jobs which are “needed now, more than ever” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The site is zoned in the Local Plan for “major employment uses” and they were providing “extensive mitigation measures” to address concerns.

A statement added: "On air quality, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Public Protection team’s consultee comments on the planning application support the mitigation measures and express no objection on the grounds of air quality.

"More generally, there are no parts of the East Riding that are designated as Air Quality Management Areas requiring action to improve air quality."

East Riding Council’s public protection team has reviewed an assessment by Wykeland’s consultants WYG, which concluded that exposure to nitrogen dioxide and particulates would be “negligible” at local monitoring receptors, documents show.

Residents have challenged the results as they suggest the combination of the two plots actually reduces air pollution.

A spokesman for ERYC said: "This is a live planning application which is currently subject to consultation, and all comments received will be considered by the council.

"The application will be reported to the council's planning committee for a decision in due course."