Resident groups opposing a new London cruise terminal claim toxic fumes from ships could prevent the city from meeting its EU legal limits on deadly nitrogen oxide.
Plans for a wharf in the Thames that would be able to handle 240 metre-long vessels carrying up to 1,800 passengers and 600 crew were approved by Greenwich council last July but are being challenged in the high court by residents.
Developers say that 55 ships a year would be expected to spend up to three days at moored at Greenwich.
Using their auxiliary diesel engines while moored, they would burn around 700 litres of diesel an hour for six months of the year in a borough considered a hot spot for air pollution.
Consultants have calculated that each ship would emit the equivalent of 688 heavy lorries permanently running their engines at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich, the Guardian reported.
Ralph Hardwick, a campaigner from the Isle of Dogs, told the newspaper: “On top of the ships the port will need tugs, hundreds of taxis and service vehicles all belching diesel close to high-density housing in an already heavily polluted area.
“Greenwich is already breaching EU limits. The council must know that 10,000 people a year die from diesel fumes a year in London.”
A spokesman for East Greenwich Residents Association added: “The alternative is to supply clean onshore power to the cruise vessels rather than running filthy diesel engines. Yet the current planning permission does not require a cleaner operation. Nor has a health feasibility study been undertaken.”
The residents will argue in court that the council should have required the development to provide an onshore power supply for the ships. If so, ships could turn their engines off while berthed. Instead, it accepted the developers’ argument that it was not “commercially viable”.
A spokeswoman for London city cruise port declined to comment pending the legal challenge.
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