Archived press release
Press & Media

Tesco must pull out of its 10-year battle to get planning permission for a new store in the Norfolk town of Sheringham if it truly wants to be considered as a good neighbour, Friends of the Earth said in a new report published today. The call, which comes ahead of Tesco's annual general meeting [1] on Friday, analyses ten environmental and social promises set out by Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy in a speech in May [2].

Tesco claims it wants to be a better neighbour and that it will improve the way it consults communities before opening a store. But Friends of the Earth says papers released by North Norfolk District Council last week, revealing a secret legal agreement between the council and the supermarket, show Tesco's true colours when it comes to involving local communities [3].

Friends of the Earth believes that the council may have unlawfully taken into account the agreement with Tesco when carrying out its functions as a planning authority and has written to North Norfolk District Council this week seeking more information [4].

Sheringham is one of more than 75 communities around Britain which has been involved in site battles over the future of a Tesco store this year. The environmental campaign group says Tesco should pull out of towns that don't want a new store.

Friends of the Earth's Supermarket Campaigner Sandra Bell said:

"Tesco's claims to be a good neighbour will not be believed by communities like Sheringham that are fighting the supermarket's expansion plans through the planning process. Rather than becoming a green and socially responsible company, Tesco is using every trick in the book to dominate the retail market and coerce local authorities. Tesco's expansion may be good news for shareholders, but it comes at a devastating cost for farmers, communities and the environment."

Friends of the Earth's briefing also reveals that Tesco is misleading shareholders with claims that it would cut store energy use by 50 per cent by 2010. The claim is included in the company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, but Friends of the Earth has calculated that energy-use resulting from Tesco's expansion are likely to outweigh its proposed energy saving measures [5]. In order to cut its energy use and emissions Tesco would need to halt its expansion programme.

Tesco also admits that it performs poorly compared to its competitors. Friends of the Earth has calculated that Tesco's average energy-use they will only match the average supermarket if they reach their target for store energy-use reductions in 2010.

Friends of the Earth's report also concludes that:

  • Tesco's new degradable plastic bags will bring no environmental benefits because they are made from fossil fuels and will still end up in landfill sites which do not have the right conditions to break the bags down.

  • Tesco is misleading customers over important health aspects of its food and it continues to promote unhealthy products including in its children's range.

  • Tesco's claims that it will be sell more local food than any other retailer are simply untrue. Tesco cannot compare with genuine local food outlets such as farmers markets when it comes to supporting local suppliers


[1] Tesco AGM - 11 am 7th July 2006 Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE. Friends of the Earth and Local Campaigners against the Tesco Sheringham will be attending - Contact Friends of the Earth 020 7566 1649 for details.

[2] If Tesco really wants to be green… (PDF)

[3] The papers reveal that Tesco entered into lengthy negotiations with council officers to secure a site in the town of Sheringham, long before the local community got a chance to have a say. And it tied the council into a legal agreement to restrict other retailers from opening in the town.

[4] Letter available from Friends of the Earth

[5] Friends of the Earth has calculated future energy use based on Tesco meeting their reduction target but expanding at current rates.  Friends of the Earth has used the actual average figure for Tesco’s energy use rather than the figures given by Tesco. 

Summary table


Floor space (m.sq.ft)

Average energy use (kWh/m.sq.ft)

Total energy use (kWh)


22.9 actual




31.6 predicted

61.8 target


This figure will not be completely accurate because the amount of energy used by different store formats is different. Therefore the total energy used will be different depending on the number of each format of store operating in 2009/10. However, we believe that our figures still stand up because:

  • most of the expansion (based on figures from (PDF) ) is forecast to be the Extra format which use roughly the average amount of energy (79.94 compared to 80.22).

  • the other areas of expansion are in the Express and Metro formats which use far above the average amount of energy used (134.86 and 109.30 respectively compared to 80.22)

Average Superstore energy use has been calculated by the Sheffield Hallam Resource Research Unit

†To view PDF files you will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader. Visually impaired users can get extra help with these documents from

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust