All of the major candidates in the London Mayoral election have rallied to the cause of Enderby Wharf campaigners who fear a cruise liner terminal at Greenwich would be an environmental blight.
Residents have long feared that large ships belching out diesel fumes reaching Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs would further damage east London’s air quality. Experts calculate that each ship would emit the equivalent of 688 heavy lorries permanently running their engines.
A possible solution – to have on-shore power units – was rejected by Greenwich Council when it signed off on the terminal and the Mayor of London’s office said it wouldn’t review the application .
Now campaigners sense a change of mood. A legal challenge of the council’s decision to permit cruise liners to berth at Greenwich will be considered by a judge at an oral hearing next Tuesday (April 19) while all the major candidates have backed a review of the decision.
Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith visited the Isle of Dogs and heard concerns about pollution.
Figures suggest that an average cruise ship will burn 700 litres of diesel an hour by running its auxiliary engines.
Zac gave an assurance that, if he won the Mayoralty, he would re-examine the viability of on-shore power.
He told The Wharf: “They need to find away to do the on-shore power unit. If they do that then they resolve 90% of the issues that people are concerned about. We have a massive challenge on our hands with pollution in London. We have most of the tools and most of technology to deal with that issue.
“It doesn’t make sense to create structures that will make that job harder. It’s not a new thing, it’s not revolutionary, they just need to find a way and build it in now rather than retro-fit 10 years down the line so they get power on shore.”
Chairman of the Compass Point Residents Association, Ralph Hardwick, said following the visit with the Tory candidate: “It was a significant meeting with Zac Goldsmith. Residents who met with Zac feel that he showed an understating of the plight they face following the air quality disaster approved by Greenwich Council.”
Meanwhile, Labour candidate Sadiq Khan told campaigners in the East Greenwich Residents Association: “We should be doing more to clean it up, not make it worse as the proposal at Enderby Wharf risks doing.
“I support bringing everyone involved back to the drawing board to discuss how a clean solution to this can be found involving an on-shore energy supply.”
Any increase in air pollution will run contrary to a Supreme Court ruling a year ago stating that London authorities should do everything possible to stop the frequent breaches of EU standards.
Both the Green Party’s Sian Berry and Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon have called for a review of the power supply arrangements.
Developers London City Cruise Port have declined to comment because of the impending legal challenge. Greenwich Council says it is committed to improving air quality in the borough and welcomes the port as a key plank in its strategy to grow tourism business.
Cllr Denise Hyland said: “We want to provide every assurance that we are committed to improving air quality in the borough.”
The use of on-shore power is resisted by many cruise companies because of practicality. Only a handful of ports around the world offer it and some ships may not be adapted to use it.