Judicial Review to Clean up Dirty Cruise Liner Terminal in London

by Ian Blore

Judicial Review to Clean up Dirty Cruise Liner Terminal in London

by Ian Blore

Dirty ships pollute our air; onshore power is the future for all cruise ports

on 09th March 2016
pledged by 226 people

Dirty ships pollute our air; onshore power is the future for all cruise ports

Jan. 4, 2018

EU Cannot Intervene to Ensure a Clean Cruise Port

The petition by East Greenwich Residents Association to the European Parliament on the London City cruise port has been closed after a considered Opinion from the European Commission.   The Op...

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The Judge deciding the substantive judicial review of the cruise port planning permission has dismissed the claim that it is unlawful. Those of us who have been campaigning for a clean cruise port, using twenty-first century shore side power and not ships' diesel engines whilst the ships are berthed, will continue to argue for this solution.

Please read the full Judgement here: HC Judgement.pdf

Air pollution on the River Thames

Greenwich Council has approved plans for a cruise liner terminal on the River Thames that will cause increased air pollution. The simple way forward is to provide clean onshore power to the cruise ships.  Help clean up the river, London and other cruise ports.


Case Background

A local resident of East Greenwich has challenged Greenwich Council’s decision of December 2015 in granting permission for an international cruise liner terminal on the Thames.  The grounds are that there has been inadequate assessment of the air pollution that will arise from ships and associated development.  Local residents have consistently called for clean onshore power supply to be provided to avoid dangerous emissions from ship’s diesel engines in a dense residential neighbourhood.

“Hotelling” cruise ships that run their auxiliary engines burn at least 700 litres of diesel an hour; the equivalent of 688 permanently running HGVs.  Cruise ships are planned to dock for the six summer months, when pollution in London is at its worst, and dirty diesel emissions will affect large populations on both banks of the river.  Ships auxiliary engines run on dirtier diesel than lorries. Also unlike lorries these ships do not treat or filter their emissions. 


Bad Air in London

Disquiet about air pollution is widespread and increasing. At a national level Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, expressed concern to a Government Select Committee that air pollution from the terminal would affect the whole of London. We also understand that mitigation measures such as onshore power will be obligatory by 2025 and asks what is the use of building a cruise port that may be obsolete in 7 years?  Both the Greenwich Society and the East Greenwich Residents Association (EGRA) wholeheartedly support this legal challenge that will hopefully result in a judicial review of the planning decision.  Your financial support is vital to help a brave citizen pursue this case against a planning authority.

Dr Paul Stookes of law firm, Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law Solicitors, has explained that:

the challenge to the planning decision is being defended by Greenwich Council and the developers and therefore the opportunity of an early resolution of the matter has gone.  The High Court will now proceed to a permission stage, and, if granted set a timetable for a final hearing.”

EGRA Chair, Dan Hayes, remarks that:

"We believe that the planning decision is short-sighted and ruinous to Londoners’ health.  Nearly 10,000 people die of air pollution in our capital each year and far more suffer ill-health because of bad air.  We have been constantly exhorted to use public transport, buy cleaner cars or cycle, only to have dirty developments thrust on our communities.  It’s time to call a halt on decision-making that makes air pollution much worse for Londoners, and the Cruise Terminal proposal, without on shore power, is a striking example of this.”

How You Can Help

We need a community contribution to support the proceedings.  We initially ask for £6,000 to begin the case.  A decision is critical to South East and East London, including Greenwich, which is one of the most polluted London boroughs. However, anyone who objects to air pollution should express support to help highlight their concern.  Frankly, local residents and communities are getting increasingly fed up with councils and government failing to properly consider the serious environmental impacts of their decisions.

About the claimant

I am Ian Blore, a member of the East Greenwich Residents Association (EGRA). I have been monitoring air pollution in the locality for over a year as part of a citizen science effort. EGRA was founded in 2013 to, among other things, help promote and improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of residents within the area of East Greenwich. The very poor air quality we have revealed in London can only be made worse by such thoughtless developments. I am helping a local resident to pursue this case in an effort to stop a further increase in pollution from the cruise liners and to convince Greenwich Council that onshore-power and a pollution-free terminal is the only way forward. I hope that you can help too by providing funding for the legal case.

Fast facts

A clean cruise port for London that does not pollute our air, and an example for less pollution from new developments. Application for judicial review of the planning decision has been made; we await whether the case may be heard Dr Paul Stookes, Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law Solicitors acting on behalf of a local resident.

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Update 19

Ian Blore

Jan. 4, 2018

EU Cannot Intervene to Ensure a Clean Cruise Port

The petition by East Greenwich Residents Association to the European Parliament on the London City cruise port has been closed after a considered Opinion from the European Commission.   The Opinion says that:

  • an overall environmental assessment is not a requirement under EU law,
  • breaches in air pollution within the UK, which the Opinion notes occur in London and specifically Greenwich, are being pursued through infringement fines, and finally,
  • "If the Member State grants permission to a project that would increase pollution beyond the limit values for ambient air quality, it would logically have to take compensating measures to ensure compliance with the limit values"

(Italics show Commission’s own words).

These opinions may appear anodyne but they may well help with the next steps of securing a clean cruise port with onshore power supply.  They underline the need for a national or local approach rather than relying on European action; the European directives provide a framework for action at a national and local level.  EGRA is considering its next steps.  They will include following up the case made to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, last summer.  EGRA will seek a meeting and will also continue to discuss riverine air pollution with the Port of London Authority and the Royal Borough.  Our local MP, Matt Pennycook, continues to actively promote the case for a clean cruise port.

This conclusion brings to an end the specifically legal arguments about air pollution caused by a cruise port in a residential area.  The arguments will continue at a political level, as they have for nearly three years.  All your help and backing has been invaluable in bringing the case so far.  It is not the result we had hoped for but it has shone a powerful light on the operations of the cruise industry and highlighted the need for alternative power sources when ships are berthed.  You may continue to follow the story on the EGRA website (www.egra.london). 

Once more, many, many thanks and a very good New Year to you.

Update 18

Ian Blore

Aug. 18, 2017

Two Petitions for a Clean Cruise Port Launched

We need your support for two new online petitions.  

This should only take a little of your time and your backing is free.  Two petitions for the price of none is a good deal to help prolong a life or protect childrens’ lungs.

The first petition is addressed to the new UK Secretary of State for the Environment and can be viewed here.  Please open this Change.Org site and follow the instructions to sign the petition.

The second petition is addressed to the European Parliament that was submitted in March 2017.  It has been accepted and referred to the European Commission for investigation.  It is now public for you to support on the official EU website.  Supporting this petition is a bit trickier than the first.  To help please follow these steps after opening this page:

Click "Register" at bottom of page, you should get a form

Fill out the form, for which you need an ID (maybe email title) and short password, plus a security question and answer

Submit the completed form after which you will get

A verification email, follow the instructions and you should get a second email saying you are registered.

Open the webpage (as above) again and click Support; it will take you through and you will get a final "success" email.

Thank you.  There is movement from the Mayor’s Office, the European Parliament and even the Port of London Authority, which we hope to report over the near future.  And our voice will be all the stronger if you can share this with friends who agree to support the petitions.

Ian Blore

Update 17

Ian Blore

July 27, 2017

Judicial Review to Clean up Dirty Cruise Liner Terminal in London

The case is under investigation in Europe

We have been informed that our petition to the European Parliament has been deemed "admissible".  It is now being investigated by the European Commission and has been also referred to the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

We understand that the Committee on Petitions will continue to examine the case once they hear back from the Commission.  The process will probably not be swift but has the support of several London MEPs, especially Seb Dance. 

Action at a European level is needed since the problem affects many ports in Europe, of which only some are installing onshore power supply (in the Baltic, Netherlands and Hamburg for example).

EGRA have also raised the matter with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment and asked if our MP, Matthew Pennycook who continues to be wholly supportive, may do the same.

If you do have any time perhaps you may also write to Michael Gove (at Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR).  Don't worry if you don't; without your support and the original court case we would not have had a hearing in Europe at all.  

Update 16

Ian Blore

July 26, 2017

Government acts on vehicle emissions

Government acts on vehicle pollution

The government has finally proposed the outline of a long-term vehicle emission strategy to cut air pollution.  It is so far limited to road vehicles but we will be arguing that it must apply to new dirty shipping operations in dense residential areas.  After all, ships are " a means of conveyance" even if they don't have wheels.  

Please follow the continuing case which is being argued at London Mayoral level and within the European Parliament.  Your continued support is important - and please spread the word.

Ian Blore

Update 15

Ian Blore

June 29, 2017

We've made it to Channel 4 and the European Commission

Our petition to the European Parliament has moved on a key stage, to the Commission and Environment Committee for their assessment.  This may take two months and is only the start of the process.  But we have the support of important London MEPs as well as the local MP for a clean cruise port for the Capital.

If you also have time, please watch Dispatches on Channel 4 at 8pm on Monday, 3 July.  This will feature the cruise industry and our case.

Meanwhile the Mayor of London is still trying to bring all parties together for a resolution, hopefully a greener facility with onshore power supply.

Your backing has helped to make this local case into a London, National and European issue.  You will soon have the chance to support the European Petition.  Watch this space for details.  It will be free!

Ian Blore

Update 14

Ian Blore

May 30, 2017

London Cruise Port becomes Election Issue

The campaign for a clean London cruise port in Greenwich goes on at both local and European levels.

Matthew Pennycook, Labour candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich, has vigorously reasserted his continued backing for onshore power supply.  He adds in a campaign statement that;

“I still believe we have a chance to secure a clean, green Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal…”

East Greenwich Residents Association (EGRA) agree with that position and will be asking other parliamentary candidates to support it.  Once the election is over we hope that meetings will continue at Borough and London levels and will include our local MP.

EGRA are also pursuing their petition to the European Parliament.  We always knew this would be a slow process.  But we have the support of MEPs Seb Dance and Claude Moraes who are liaising with a key colleague on the Committee on Petitions (Jude Kirton Darling) to ensure that the petition is heard expeditiously.  We will let you know further news as soon as we have it.

This fight is but part of a bigger effort to make our air fit to breathe.  EGRA continues to engage in this wider debate (see latest).  We appreciate Matt Pennycook’s work on air pollution not least in the establishment of the first ever All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution.

Update 13

Ian Blore

Feb. 22, 2017

Our Appeal is Blocked in the Courts

Courts Block London Cruise Port Judicial Review

Permission has been refused today (22/2/2017) by Lord Justice Henderson for an appeal against the High Court decision of 8 August 2016.  He 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 the Future

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 on 10 March 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 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.

A Big Thank You and We Must Continue the Arguments

I and EGRA thank 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 you 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 will try to continue to update you even though the case in the British courts is over.  And please spread the news among all your friends.

Update 12

Ian Blore

Feb. 5, 2017

Sydney MP fights as well

Jamie Parker, the MP for Balmain in Sydney, Australia is seeking urgent meetings with relevant Ministers in the New South Wales Assembly to deal with the chronic pollution from cruise ships visiting the city. He says, 'shore to ship power is the only long term solution to the health issues that local residents are facing.'

No wonder, Balmain residents have  to suffer an even higher level of sulphur dioxide emissions than we do  because standards imposed on cruise ships are lower. This of course shows that the cruise industry will only act when it's forced to - another reason to fight for shore power!

Full details and lots more posts on: Stop Cruise Ship Pollution on Facebook - well worth looking at.  

BW Howard Wynne 

Update 11

Ian Blore

Jan. 31, 2017

Hearing Date Set: 22.2.17

The hearing for our application to seek permission to appeal at the High Court is on Wednesday 22nd of February 2017. Please note that we won't know the courtroom or the time until the afternoon before (most hearings start at 10am).

Last week it was announced that Westminster Council are going to charge owners of diesel cars extra money to park their vehicles in it's parking bays. This is in line with the GLA's decision to charge all diesel car owners - other those whose vehicles meet Euro 6 emmisions standard - a daily charge to drive withinthe North and South Circular Roads from 2020, or even 2019. We find it strange that cruise ships burning 700+ litres of marine diesel per hour virtually non stop during the summer months have no penalty imposed for not using shore based power. Another reason to try and stop this scheme as it stands through the High Court. 

Yours Howard Wynne 

Isle of Dogs Resident 

Update 10

Ian Blore

Jan. 24, 2017


Yesterday we heard, as expected, that the initial request to seek leave to appeal has been turned down which means that we will now proceed to an oral hearing (similar to the judicial review).

The significance of the date of this was announced won't be lost on many following the campaign as it was the day that the first 'Black Air Alert' was announced in London. This indicates that the air pollution was 'very high' beating even the Red Air Alert 'high' issued last week.

It is this kind of news that makes us more determined than ever to continue the fight for clean air in our locality.


Howard Wynne 

Update 9

Ian Blore

Sept. 11, 2016

MPs Again Raise Issue in Parliament

MPs Call for Action in Parliamentary Debate

Members of Parliament Jim Fitzpatrick and Matt Pennycook called for serious talks to secure a clean cruise port in Parliament on Wednesday 7 September.  Speaking for the Government, Gavin Barwell conceded that air pollution is a priority issue in London and promised a high-level meeting.

A televised download may be seen of the Westminster Hall Debate. A written Hansard entry is available.

We must all hope that this intervention will resolve the impasse and lead to a 21st century solution for London’s first planned cruise port.

Ian Blore

Update 8

Ian Blore

Aug. 31, 2016

Judicial Review to Clean up Dirty Cruise Liner Terminal in London

The High Court judgment has been appealed against

Permission has been sought to appeal against the High Court decision of 8 August which found for the Council.  The request, to the Court of Appeal, will first be made “on the papers”, that is a written application.  If refused, we understand that an oral permission hearing will be sought.  

Update 7

Ian Blore

April 29, 2016

Now Parliament Backs Us with Four Days to Go to Reach Our Limit

Only 4 days left to support a case which is now backed by a powerful all-party parliamentary committee.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a report on 27 April which fully backs our case. Read all about it in the Evening Standard.

Now the only serious opposition to installing clean onshore power supply is by the defendant and its interested parties. They continue to press for an outdated and dirty project against all the main mayoral candidates, 2 local MPs and now Parliament.

Help us join the future and please donate now.

Update 6

Ian Blore

April 22, 2016

Local Civic Society Backs Us

The Greenwich Society, with 500 families in its membership, has made a very generous pledge to support the case.  It fully backs the legal challenge to a dubious decision.

Thanks to other local groups who are supporting the full judicial review.  We now have nearly reached our stretch total for the court hearing. This should be heard in the latter half of June and has been designated a "significant case".

Update 5

Ian Blore

April 20, 2016

Permission for Judicial Review won in the High Court

The High Court, on 19 April, granted permission for a full judicial review.

This great decision means that the planning authority, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, arguably made legal errors in their air quality assessment for the cruise liner terminal.  

That argument will now be heard in the High Court.  The date of the hearing has yet to be set but it will be this summer

Update 4

Ian Blore

April 11, 2016

London Mayoral Candidates Support Us

First, Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) and Sian Berry (Green Party), and last week Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) and Sadiq Khan (Labour) have all backed our solution to the dirty cruise liner terminal.  

This non-partisan consensus reflects growing public concern about air pollution.  All that is needed is the political will to bring the major stakeholders together and thoroughly assess on-shore power supply.  

Join us in challenging a decision that further pollutes our air.

Update 3

Ian Blore

March 31, 2016

High Court to hear application on 19 April

The High Court will hear the application for judicial review on 19 April.  This public hearing will determine whether the case will be fully heard in the High Court.

We have therefore extended the initial deadline by 31 days to give more people the chance to register concerns for the environment by making a contribution to the cause no matter how small.

Update 2

Ian Blore

March 18, 2016

Halfway to Our Stretch Goal

Thanks to nearly 100 supporters we are over halfway to our stretch goal with over half the initial time left.  Let all your friends know that a donation as small as £10 can make an impact on London's polluted air

Update 1

Ian Blore

March 9, 2016

Initial Target Success!

You have all helped us achieve our initial target of £6,000 within a week. Thank you and spread the word.  We will keep you updated on the main milestones of the legal case by email.  But keep an eye on this page as well.  We already have many supporters; more will demonstrate as much as their donations how seriously we view air pollution.  Please remember that further pledges are automatic donations to the cause - but we think it is a worthy one for all our cities as well as Greenwich, and so do many of you.

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