Legal but Lethal: Courts Block London Cruise Port Judicial Review


Permission has been refused for an appeal against the High Court decision of 8 August 2016. This found that Greenwich Council had not made any error in law in granting permission for a turnaround cruise port at Enderby Wharf. That permission would allow a potentially highly polluting cruise liner terminal to be built and operated in the heart of London. Running ships’ diesel engines may burn on average 700 litres of diesel an hour which can be as polluting as 688 lorries idling all day. The alternative for which EGRA has consistently argued is to connect berthed ship to a shore-side power supply. This would provide a clean and green cruise port in London fit for the 21st century.

What this Means and Where Next?

Refusal of leave to appeal exhausts any path in the British courts to secure a better cruise port for London. EGRA will continue to make the case for using shore-side power and hopes to meet with the London Mayor’s office to explore any ways forward. The possibility of a petition to the European Parliament is also being explored especially after the recent warning of the UK over air pollution. There is now overwhelming evidence that much bad air is largely the result of burning diesel. Allowing an additional major source of diesel pollution in a densely populated residential area, where pollution levels already exceed permitted levels, is perverse. Doubly so since ship’s diesel is even dirtier than that used in lorries.

Our Arguments will Continue

EGRA thanks wholeheartedly all those who backed our crowdfunding of the legal campaign. We hope the case has made developers and planners see sense by raising what we consider to be a critical concern of air quality in the UK. Importantly, the decision by the Court of Appeal does not mean that the pollution from cruise liners is going to go away. It simply means that as far as the Courts are concerned Greenwich Council acted lawfully in granting permission to a polluting activity. This does not bode well for planning decisions in future.

We do not consider it too late to fully explore the feasibility of shore-side power supply for ships berthed during the most polluted six months of our summer below the windows of many new blocks of flats. We owe it to all to continue to argue the case for a clean cruise port for London – to those who will listen to what we consider to be sense. At a time when diesel fumes have been identified as a major lethal health hazard it is ridiculous to allow an unmitigated development that relies on burning so much diesel. We must continue to make this case.

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