London mayor Sadiq Khan is to talk to new Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe about the future of the planned cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf, east Greenwich, urging him to “do the right thing” about cutting pollution from the scheme.
The London City Cruise Port, which is backed by the council, would allow berthed ships to power themselves with their own highly polluting diesel engines, with the emissions from one vessel alone equalling those from hundreds of heavy good vehicles.
Thorpe, who formally becomes leader on Wednesday, was on the planning committee which backed the project in 2015, voting in favour of the scheme – despite protests from residents in Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs about the impact of the scheme.
Now the mayor has said the responsibility for the scheme lies firmly with the council – and he told London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon he will be talking to Thorpe about the project to see what can be done.
Thorpe had used previous mayor Boris Johnson’s backing for the scheme as justification for it going ahead without ships being made to use cleaner on-shore power from the National Grid.
Liberal Democrat Pidgeon used a discussion about the mayor’s draft environment to raise the issue, asking Khan why Enderby Wharf did not appear in it. “If Enderby Wharf goes ahead without onshore power, it has been estimated that one ship alone will emit the same toxic diesel fumes as 688 lorries,” she said. “Exactly what have you done on this issue when it is not mentioned in your environment strategy?”
Khan responded: “I still have concerns about Enderby Wharf and I’m surprised you’re not aware of the rules around that site and who’s responsible – it’s a local council issue, unless you’re suggesting I take powers away from councils which I can’t do.
“The council gave permission and I expressed my concern about this… it’s a Port of London Authority and council matter. I’ve been talking to all the relevant parties over the past couple of years and I will not stop talking to them. I will meet the new leader of Greenwich Council shortly to discuss my concerns around this. It will lead to all sorts of problems in relation to generators, the residents nearby, those who are on the cruise ships as well.
“This, I hope, is an example of using the bullet of City Hall to persuade people to do the right thing, because I was surprised, as you were, when I saw this permission was granted, but I’m hoping the new leader of Greenwich will understand the concerns of City Hall on a cross-party basis.
The development, pushed through by Thorpe and outgoing leader Denise Hyland – who was the only council leader in London to sit on her own main planning committee – was sharply criticised by a number of Labour candidates at hustings in the lead-up to May’s elections, while cabinet member Averil Lekau, who challenged Thorpe for the leadership, said it was time to “listen to our residents”.
A resident-led campaign, No Toxic Cruise Port, was recently relaunched to put pressure on politicians and any future purchasers of the development, which is currently up for sale.
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