Skye supermarket petitioner highlights delivery van impact

Supermarket petitioner Marion Colven pictured shortly after she raised the petition back in 2020.

A Skye woman who collected more than 3,200 signatures in support of a new supermarket two years ago has this reiterated her call for a new store to be based on the island amid an increase in delivery vans to the area.

In January 2020, islander Marion Colven started an online petition for an Aldi store to be based on Skye to offer more choice for residents and visitors who are currently served by three Co-op outlets.

Morrisons are the latest major supermarket chain now operating a delivery service across Skye with a view to providing groceries via central drop-off points as currently done by both Tesco and ASDA.

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The Free Press contacted all three supermarkets to establish exactly how many deliveries they were making across Skye on a daily/weekly basis, and to gauge if there any plans to build a store on the island or to mitigate the carbon footprint of their services.

The Free Press also asked the three companies for comment about how their services were contributing in any way to the local economy, given the risk they could potentially present to the jobs of those employed by the Co-op.

In response, ASDA senior press officer Joe Furniss told the Free Press: “We wouldn’t provide a statement here and I’m afraid we can’t provide any details about volume of deliveries to specific locations.

“There are no current plans to build a new store in the region, but we are always looking for opportunities to better serve our customers. We are also working hard to make our delivery business more environmentally friendly, which is why we are trialling vehicles that run on alternatives to petrol and diesel, including electric delivery vehicles.”

A spokesperson for Morrisons said: “We are in the very early stages of trialling this service.
“We are offering the service in response to listening to customers from Skye who have been asking us for it for a while.”

“We have had very popular feedback from customers and are hoping to be able to share more information in due course.

“At the moment deliveries are being made to people’s houses but the plan is to confirm a central drop-off point shortly.”

A spokesperson for Tesco told the Free Press that the number of vans can vary daily to meet customer demand and the service remains very popular.

Touching on the environmental impact of their service and plans to locate a premises on the island they went on to say: “We have committed to electrify our fleet by 2028.

“We have no immediate plans to open a store on Skye, but we are always looking out for new opportunities.”

Speaking two years on from starting her petition, which has 3,277 signatories to date, Marion Colven recently told the Free Press: “There are still people who have signed it this year and I haven’t even shared it for a couple of years.

“When Covid hit that was it, I thought there were more important things for people to worry about as no one knew how Covid was going to affect people. I have taken a back seat since then as I can’t do it on my own.”

She added: “There should be some sort of encouragement for someone to come. There are 10-12 vans coming daily, seven days a week plus Morrisons has now started.

“Skye is not benefiting at all as they are not getting fuel here or employing anyone. However, they are causing excess wear and tear on our roads, and it certainly isn’t good for the carbon footprint.
“Lidl had shown an interest too when they heard Aldi were thinking of it. I wrote to about 10 stores when Aros was for sale, and I sent the link to them.

“The Co-op are doing the best they can but sometimes it isn’t enough. I know there are other wee shops which supply food, and we are grateful for those too but really with Skye expanding as it is, it’s simply not enough.”

Skye MSP Kate Forbes said: “Over the past few years I have been in regular dialogue with various supermarkets about online grocery deliveries as well as the possibility of a new supermarket on Skye.

“Last year one such representative visited the island, and whilst I believe they remain open-minded in relation to development opportunities, Skye was not in their immediate expansion plans.

“I do believe that it is important that locals have the option of getting groceries in different places, not least of all as the cost of living continues to increase.”

Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.