‘Electric cars are not milk floats’: ExCeL hosting of Formula E race gets green light from council

Formula E cars outside the ExCeL. Picture: Formula E

Formula E cars outside the ExCeL. Picture: Formula E - Credit: Formula E

Plans to host a top level Formula E motor race have been given the green light after a debate about the “sexiness” of electric cars.

The proposed track, including a section inside the ExCeL. Picture: Formula E

The proposed track, including a section inside the ExCeL. Picture: Formula E - Credit: Formula E

The ExCeL London exhibition centre in Western Gateway, Royal Docks, was granted permission by Newham Council on Wednesday, September 11, for the temporary construction for what is believed to be the world's first indoor and outdoor motor racing track.

It came after strategic development committee members, Cllr Rachel Tripp and Cllr Mas Patel, challenged the applicant's point that hosting the event would promote electric cars as a sustainable means of transport.

Cllr Tripp said: "I'm profoundly unconvinced that having electric cars at the ExCeL will promote sustainability in any meaningful way."

However, Sam Mallinson - senior press officer at Formula E - argued the motor sport is meant to change people's perceptions.

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Mr Mallinson said: "The aim is to show electric cars are not milk floats, but sexy and exciting."

But after Cllr Tripp shot back saying the marketing of cars as sexy is destroying the planet, Mr Mallinson replied Formula E was accelerating knowledge and technological advances in electric car development.

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Committee members heard Formula E's organisers were looking forward to adding London to its list of host cities including Mexico City, Hong Kong and Seoul.

David Miles, ExCeL London's chief financial officer, said: "Formula E would be a fantastic event for the Newham community whilst also helping to put the Royal Docks on the map to a global television audience."

He added the race - due to be held on July 25 and 26, 2020 - would not affect public transport, shops and businesses in the area.

A neighbour's objection about noise was dismissed after it was argued the 80 decibels expected were "significantly lower" in comparison to Formula 1.

Cllr James Beckles asked whether the applicant had learnt its lesson after opposition from people saw it agree not to return to a track in Battersea Park.

Mr Mallinson replied: "We learnt a lot from that experience and racing in other cities. Planning racing in a park was not an ideal scenario. We decided it wasn't the right space for Formula E to grow.

"The only place it can work is somewhere like ExCeL."

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