Air pollution threat from new Greenwich cruise liner terminal

The new proposals for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf

The new proposals for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf

It’s been four years since Greenwich Council approved plans for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf in east Greenwich – it got the green light at the same planning meeting as the cable car. In fact, it was given unanimous approval.

Planning documents said: “It is the applicant’s intention to deliver the cruise liner terminal and pier in time for 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games bringing a major piece of new infrastructure to London,” adding that an independent study had found this was “realistic and achievable”. This was loyally written up in council weekly Greenwich Time – it was “anticipated” it’d be open by the Olympics.

By April 2011, nothing had happened on site apart from the vandalism of historic Enderby House. In June 2011, Greenwich Time declared the terminal would be open “in 2012”, and mega-liner The World would be docking there in 2013.

It never happened. Last year, Barratt Homes moved in on part of the site and hid Enderby House away.

Now the cruise liner terminal is back – hey, maybe in time to watch the 2020 Olympics on television. And surprise, surprise, the plans have grown.

Here’s the East Greenwich Residents Association:

The developers propose building two towers near the riverside, Blocks Y and Z. Block Y will be 23 storeys high and will have 113 flats. Block Z will be 31 storeys high and will be home to 150 dwellings.

These two blocks will have no affordable housing in them – the idea is that they will generate the income required for the new terminal.

There is a further block planned for the rear of the site, Block A. It’s proposed this will have 9 storeys at one end and 26 at the other, this is where the affordable housing will be.

The developers already had planning permission to build 93 apartments here. Now they are proposing to build a further 121 in this block.

The three blocks combined represent an increase of 384 apartments from the original plans.

Under this proposal the overall affordable housing provision for the site drops to 16% from the 20% promised by Barratt London when it unveiled its plans back in July 2013.

More homes, but a smaller proportion of “affordable” ones – a depressingly familiar story. Plans for a hotel have now gone.

Then there’s the threat of pollution – not just from the traffic accessing the development, but from the ships themselves.

While emissions from motor vehicles are coming under ever-tighter legal restrictions, this isn’t the case with ships. When a ship is docked, it needs power – and there are no plans to supply this from generators on the shore, as used by similar terminals in New York City and Amsterdam.

I don’t recall this being an issue in 2011 – but it’s been forced up the agenda by a determined resident of the Isle of Dogs, who’ll also be affected by the terminal.

European Union directive 2012/33/EU says:

Air pollution caused by ships at berth is a major concern for many harbour cities when it comes to their efforts to meet the Union’s air quality limit values.

Member States should encourage the use of shore-side electricity, as the electricity for present-day ships is usually provided by auxiliary engines.

But instead, the Enderby Wharf plans see the ships’ diesel engines burning day and night, spewing out emissions that will affect residents on both sides of the Thames. The impact of this is barely acknowledged in a health assessment belatedly submitted by the developer last week.

The East Greenwich Residents’ Association is demanding an environmental assessment. It says:

“A ship like The World may burn up to 2 tonnes of fuel an hour. This is the equivalent of 1200 HGVs with their engines idling. A ship will burn this 24 hours a day.

Cruise vessels do not need to comply with strict emission treatment controls as do trucks, and they may well use dirtier fuel. Given that the proposed terminal will operate in the summer months, when pollution is worst, and that it lies at the heart of a dense residential area dramatically raises concerns.

East Greenwich already suffers from high, often illegal, air pollution levels. Yet another huge source of deadly pollution is not what anyone wants on their doorstep.”

EGRA says permission should not be given until the UK government responds submits its plans for complying with EU air pollution laws by the end of the year – or until the developer comes up with an acceptable plan to generate its electricity on shore.

There’s only one day left to comment on the plan yourself – yes, residents have had only three weeks to go through 130+ documents and come up with a response. Visit Greenwich Council’s planning database and enter 15/0973/F for more.

PS. If you’re still in the mood for responding to planning applications that close tomorrow, 15/0457/F is a plan to build housing on the beer garden at the Vanburgh pub in east Greenwich – something that’s definitely worth objecting to.

11 comments

  1. roytindle

    Cold ironing from a nearby shore based generator would offer some air quality improvements, particularly in terms of sulphur dioxide, but it would not be a complete solution. Land based generation would likely be based on diesel or gas turbine generators which would add to local NOx production. I can’t, somehow, see a local solar array being used! However, cold ironing can be taken from the grid. There is a danger of an agreement with TfL for a connection with the Greenwich Power Station, just moving the pollution a bit upstream.

  2. B

    The environmental stats are horrific. There are 3 primary school and one brand new “through school” within a quarter of a mile of Enderby Wharf. It’s bad enough with the A2 already but Greenwich Council need a good shake to put it mildly.
    Is our newly elected MP prepared to go on the record with his views out of interest?

  3. Jackie Rennie

    Do you think the new “river crossing” will happen first??
    My husband, in 1971, was working on the river bed exploration for the GLC but nothing ever materialised.

  4. Darryl Chamberlain

    Jackie – which river crossing? Silvertown would be the other side of the peninsula and wouldn’t open until at least 2021, hopefully never – are you thinking of the Docklands Southern Relief Road (roughly Charlton station – Mudchute Park/Millwall Outer Dock – Surrey Docks station) of which Bugsbys Way was the only fragment ever built?

  5. PM

    My Father worked at the now closed Tunnel Refineries and recently confirmed that they laid submarine power cables under the water along the foreshore from the Greenwich Power Station to power the refinery, as far has he can remember they were never removed and would be directly under the location of the new cruise terminal. This would be the best solution to tap into the TFL power station site for power, which has promised that the new generators would supply low emission and low cost electricity for local residents and businesses.

  6. Ken Welsby

    Please be aware

    Shipowners are having to spend millions upgrading engines and exhaust systems to reduce emissions in compliance with the latest EU regulations.

    So it is factually incorrect to say “they may well use dirtier fuel”.

    The regs specify that heavy oil fuel can not be burned in coastal areas, such as the River Thames.

    I do not know who has set this particular idea running, but it is wrong.

  7. roytindle

    Low emission doesn’t mean no emission and is likely, in any case, to refer to CO2. Diesel engines and gas turbines burn fuel at high temperatures, higher than petrol engines, and this produces quantities of NOx – specifically, NO2. Furthermore, diesels produce a lot of particulates. Extensive exhaust gas scrubbing will help to reduce pollution but this costs!

  8. roytindle

    I think, Ken, that you are the one who is wrong. EU legislation has been concerned with the desulphurisation of bunker fuel – previously up to 1.5% now reduced to 0.1%. The limits for road vehicle fuel in the UK, however, are below .001%. So, we have less SO2, but still 100 times that permitted for equivalent use on our roads.

    Since domestic coal burning ceased, SO2 has not been the principle problem, that has become oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulates. Both of those are produced in far greater quantities by diesel engines and that derives from the burn temperature in a diesel engine. Higher burn temperatures or of the nature of diesel engines. Limits are tightening on NOx emissions but they will only be seriously reduced when the entire tonnage is re-engined and world refinery capacity increased. That is decades away.

  9. Mary

    On behalf of the Enderby Group – I am Secretary – I am trying to find out the truth about berthing arrangements and the legal position for the cruise ships and how local community organisations can influence this – the regulatory authority is not necessarily the Council – and we need to find out more about this. I will keep you posted on it. .
    PS – the Enderby Group has been working on the future of Enderby House and the two jetties and their historical context.
    – and – another PS – new power lines were put in by EDF two years ago and a new substation built which was paid for by the developers – again this issue needs to be taken up.

Hello! Please join the discussion below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s