It has just been announced that a huge new cruise ship terminal planned for the River Thames would lead to a surge in dangerous levels of air pollution.
Campaigners have warned that London would then be faced with unknown health consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.
Up to 55 cruise ships would dock in the capital every year and each one would need to run its diesel engines round the clock to power its onboard facilities.
This would generate the same amount of toxic NO2 emissions as almost 700 continuously running lorries.
“As we find out more about the damage air pollution is doing to people’s health, it is unthinkable that something like this can go ahead,” said local resident Laura Eyres.
Recent research has revealed the health risks associated with toxic air are reduced intelligence, a rise in asthma deaths, heart disease and spikes in alzheimer’s and dementia.
Although London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced 2021 plans to introduce a low emissions zone banning the most polluting road vehicles from a broad area of the city.
“The fumes that are emitted on the river simply would not be allowed if they were coming from a road in London,” said Eyres.
“It is really worrying to think what damage these fumes are causing local residents, and if the new terminal goes ahead that is only going to get a lot worse.”
The Port of London Authority (PLA) controls traffic on the Thames and has pointed out that it is only responsible for 1% of London’s air pollution and that emission levels will improve in the years ahead as clean marine technology comes into force.
Martin Garside from the PLA said it was working with the the mayor and local authorities to “to secure strong environmental standards”.
He added: “With a single barge carrying the loads of 50 lorries, the Thames helps reduce traffic and pollution on London’s congested roads.
Over four million tonnes of cargo is transported between river terminals– removing about 300,000 lorry movements from the roads.”
The council has changed its mind since confirming permission for the new cruise terminal in 2012 and is backing campaigners’ calls for Morgan Stanley to come up with a greener alternative for the cruise terminal.
Residents want it to be “zero emissions”, only allowing ships that can plug into an onshore power point so they can turn off their polluting diesel engines.
A spokesman added: “We are already prepared to use shore power. Our newest ship, launched this year, has a built-in connection, and we are updating our other four ships to use shore power in order to have the capability fleetwide.”
Eyres responded: “We can’t rest until we see a concrete commitment from Morgan Stanley that their plans for a polluting cruise port are dead in the water.”
What do you think of the new cruise terminal for the River Thames? Do you agree there needs to be a greener alternative before it goes ahead? Do you support cruise lines that little bit more when they’re proud of their environmental conscience? Leave us your comments!
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