Quorn Food truck with portable diesel generator. Truck in a locading bay. Generator is on the pavement.
A portable internal combustion engine (ICE) generator used by Quorn Foods caused noise nuisance for local residents and businesses on Tottenham Street and Whitfield Street. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

A vegan and vegetarian food producer has issued an apology to local residents and businesses in Tottenham Street and Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia after a promotional event for their products caused “a great deal of noise nuisance”.

On the morning of Wednesday 5 October Quorn Foods carried out an “activation” using a food truck parked in a suspended loading bay on Tottenham Street.

Promotional stalls were also placed on nearby Whitfield Gardens public open space. The event had been booked through Camden Council’s events team.

The promo van was “powered by electricity” but it had a portable generator fuelled by “diesel” on the pavement next to it to power equipment for the event.

Between 10am and 11am a local resident reported to Fitzrovia News that a very noisy generator was being used outside people’s homes and in front of shops, and other local businesses.

The noise from the generator was so loud that it could be heard inside buildings some distance away — including the Fitzrovia News home office.

Complaints were made to Camden Events Team about the nuisance.

The resident told Fitzrovia News:

“Today there is a Quorn Foods truck parked opposite my home with a loud generator causing a great deal of noise nuisance that is set to be there till 7pm.

“The noise from this truck is constant and disturbing. I both study and work from home as is now the norm for many workers and therefore this level of noise is disruptive, and too close to homes and businesses.

“Whilst they have reduced the noise a little, it is still disturbing and can be heard by neighbours who live further away and along Tottenham Street, west of Whitfield Street.

“This should indicate that the level of noise and disturbance to the residents directly above and opposite is unacceptable,” said the resident.

The promotional event also took up valuable space for deliveries to the street.

“The truck is parked in the only loading bay in the street. I am concerned that this has been allowed in the first instance, as well as being worried that this may set a precedent for the future in allowing the only loading bad to be used for another purpose where no other space is available for any deliveries.

“With the increase in home working, it is essential that the council consider not just business needs but those of residents who overwhelmingly represent the majority of the street’s composition and population,” said the resident of Tottenham Street.

The Quorn Foods truck was parked in the only available loading bay on this part of Tottenham Street. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

After the complaint was made to Camden Events Team there was some reduction in noise and the event was eventually wound up before 4pm, instead of the scheduled 7pm.

A spokesperson for Quorn Foods said: “We apologise for any noise disturbance caused to locals as a result of our event.”

However, Quorn claimed that the generator did not cause any air pollution.

“We would like to assure local residents and businesses that Quorn’s electric food truck is powered by a biodiesel generator. The generator uses renewable energy sources and no air pollution was caused.”

In fact biodiesel does emit pollutants. It might be less polluting than petroleum diesel but it does produce similar pollutants. One study found that “biodiesel has no clear benefit for air quality”.

Fitzrovia News recently reported on use of internal combustion engine (ICE) generators by film crews in Fitzrovia. The filming was approved by Camden Film Office which works to manage filming in the borough for Camden Council.

Ironically Camden is currently consulting on its new Clean Air Action Plan 2022-2026.

While Camden has a strategy to reduce air pollution, including a ban on engine idling, its own street marketing teams — The Film Office and Events Team — is allowing ICE equipment to be used and seemingly at odds with its own policy, in addition to the noise pollution this causes. This suggests the council is institutionally incompetent.

Part of the Quorn Foods promo event was taking place on Whitfield Gardens on a paved area that is allocated for events. A recent £900,000 refurbishment of Whitfield Gardens included a pop-up electricity supply. Yet this was not used.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “We were sorry to hear that local residents were affected by this event.

“Camden’s Events team always aims to keep noise levels and pollution to a minimum by using silent generators powered by hydro [sic] fuel or by using local power supply where possible,” said the statement.

Camden also told Fitzrovia News that “this activation event will not be returning to this area again”.