A Greenwich Council cabinet member has broken ranks to criticise the controversial Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal – demanding that its operators “plug in or ship out”.
Housing spokesperson Averil Lekau called for the council to “listen to our residents” on the issue of pollution from the terminal.
Under current plans, ships using the terminal would generate their own power using highly polluting marine fuel – with Greenwich Council refusing to force the operator to use energy from the National Grid instead.
Residents recently relaunched their No Toxic Cruise Port campaign against the current plans, with local MP Matt Pennycook signing up to support them.
Thamesmead Moorings councillor Lekau – a possible contender to be the next council leader – pitched in with her backing, tweeting on Wednesday: “The time has come for us to listen to our residents and say plug in or ship out. This is a low emission zone.”
Current leader Denise Hyland and deputy Danny Thorpe – himself another contender to run the council after May’s election – are staunch supporters of the terminal, and also sat on the planning committee that gave permission for the scheme in 2015, dismissing residents’ fears over pollution. Hyland is the only London council leader to regularly sit on her borough’s main planning committee.
Frustration within the Labour ranks boiled over last month when Peninsula ward councillor Stephen Brain – another opponent of the terminal – threatened rival Green Party candidates with the police for distributing a leaflet stating that the cruise liner terminal was Greenwich Labour policy.
Both Brain and fellow councillor Chris Lloyd have borne the brunt of criticism over plans endorsed by their leadership that they themselves have opposed, such as the the cruise port, Silvertown Tunnel and the under-construction east Greenwich Ikea store.
Brain later dismissed his legal threat as a “friendly warning”, but the Labour-run council has backed the scheme since 2010, when Hyland’s predecessor Chris Roberts appeared on TV to support the scheme. A representative of London City Cruise Port also sits on the council’s tourism body, Visit Greenwich, and has been regularly invited to council functions.
The council has even expressed “disappointment” at delays to the scheme caused by a court challenge brought by residents.
Pennycook has been a long-time opponent of the plan, together with Poplar MP Jim Fitzpatrick, representing residents across the Thames on the Isle of Dogs.
Lekau’s intervention, though, will provide a major boost to residents, providing them with a glimmer of hope that they may finally get a council that takes their pollution concerns seriously.
However, this all depends on who councillors choose as their leader after May – a decision residents will have no direct say in. With new Labour councillors likely be elected in the south of the borough – coming under the influence of Eltham MP Clive Efford, who has backed both Hyland and Thorpe in the past – the decision could be a tight one.
The cruise port site has been put on the market by investment bank Morgan Stanley, with developer Barratt withdrawing from the housing side of the scheme. It is being marketed as Maritime View.
The East Greenwich Residents’ Association, which has led protests against the scheme, says it would cost £6m to connect ships using the port to the power network, to prevent them from having to use their own generators.
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