10.40pm update: The cruise liner terminal was passed by six votes to three, with one abstention. Read on for the story from before the meeting.
Greenwich Council planners have dismissed fears of air pollution from the new cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf, recommending councillors pass the scheme at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
Groups including the East Greenwich Residents Association and the Greenwich Society are objecting to the terminal as liners berthed there will be generating their own power, keeping their engines switched on rather than using cleaner shore-side power, as used at termimals in New York and Amsterdam.
Critics say the effects of the ships generating their own power while berthed will be the equivalent to having 50 lorries running their engines all day and night.
Across the river, Tower Hamlets Council is also objecting to the scheme, both on air and noise pollution grounds, criticising the lack of detail in the plans and branding as “nonsense” a claim that noise levels will be cut for Isle of Dogs residents.
The application has gone to the planning board just a few weeks after a second consultation into the scheme closed.
EU 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 this is dismissed by Greenwich planners.
In a response to residents of Plymouth Wharf in Cubitt Town, which faces the terminal, they declare that this isn’t their responsibility.
Implementation of the EU Directive is the responsibility of the UK Government by transposing this into national legislation. The UK Government must give the Directive effect by instituting schemes, projects etc,. to comply with the Air Quality Directive. The LPA’s role is to assess applications according to legislation and planning policy.
Later, Greenwich’s planners say that following EU directives would be too costly for the cruise liner terminal’s developers.
The applicant has assessed the use of shore power to supply vessels with electrical power in order to reduce emissions when in port. Using shore power has a number of issues attached to it namely:
• Very few cruise ships worldwide actually have the ability to link up to shore power.
• Ship power requirements vary with the size of ship
• The ship electrical requirements differ from those supplied from the UK national grid.
In addition to the above, it is understood that the costs associated with providing such facilities can be prohibitive to both the provider and user when considered against the environmental benefits of burning low sulphur fuel in generators and this is reflected in the low number of ships and ports utilise this facility globally.
Furthermore, the council commissioned a report… but it’s nowhere to be seen in the planning document.
The Council commissioned independent consultants to assess the case for on shore power. The consults report [sic] supported the application position [sic] stating that with the new low sulphur requirements now governing the supply and use of heavy diesel fuel for marine vessels it is unlikely that the huge investment in shore side power equipment can be justified.
Whose side is the council on? It’s a valid question, considering it’s five years since the prospect of a cruise liner terminal at this site was first raised by former leader Chris Roberts, who took the media out on a boat trip to show off the site. He claimed it’d be built for the Olympics.
These days, the planning board is chaired by independently-minded Mark James. Planning is supposed to be free of all political influence, although in practice this hasn’t been the case in recent years.
James replaced Roberts’ one-time henchman, former chief whip Ray Walker, who has now to be content with being vice chair. Current leader Denise Hyland and regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe also feature along with Roberts’ former deputy Peter Brooks – so much for doing things differently from the Dear Leader’s days.
So this starts to feel like the Ikea decision – rushed through in the dying days of the Roberts regime, now regretted by some on the council – all over again. Indeed, picking entirely unnecessary fights with local residents and even neighbouring boroughs has a depressingly familiar ring to it.
Will councillors recognise the serious concerns about this project, or will they just give another pet project the nod? It’ll be a big test for the council under Denise Hyland.
Here’s what local MP Matt Pennycook has to say:
The meeting will be held at Woolwich Town Hall at 6.30pm – this post will be updated as soon as a result is known.