About the port

In 2012, Greenwich Council gave permission for a cruise ship port to be built at Enderby Wharf which would accommodate short transit calls.

The permission was revised in 2015 on the back of a change in legislation and provides for a larger terminal with upgraded baggage and cargo handling facilities, and with the capacity to handle bigger ships for longer periods as an embarkation and disembarkation destination. The revised plans now allow for 240 metre-long cruise liners of 48,000 gross tonnes to spend up to three days “hotelling” in Greenwich. Up to 55 ship visits are expected annually in the cruise period from April to September.

London’s cruise port will be close to schools, Greenwich University and thousands of homes including riverside new builds running up to Greenwich Peninsula. It lies between the famous Maritime World Heritage site and the Blackwall Tunnel in a part of Greenwich where pollution levels already exceed legal limits and which will come within the Mayor’s new Low Emission Zone. Approximately 12 schools are within an half a mile radius of the cruise port site.

Cruise ships will run their auxiliary engines to generate power for their lights, air conditioning, the galleys and so on whilst docked at the new London City Cruise Port.


Estimates provided by GLA air quality consultants and which are undisputed by all parties, confirm that a cruise ship berthed at Enderby Wharf would burn approximately 700 litres of diesel an hour emitting the equivalent levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution as 688 idling heavy goods vehicles. Cruise ships typically burn diesel with one hundred times more sulphur than road diesel without any post combustion mitigation such as catalysts of particulate filters.

Health impact

Diesel fumes are rated as a level one carcinogen by the World Health Organisation, in the same category as smoking. Diesel fumes affect lung development in young children, cause heart disease and strokes in adults and are linked to cancer. Research conducted by King's College, London has shown that 9,500 Londoners and one in five people in Greenwich die prematurely each year due to air pollution.

legal anomaly

The Thames is a no man’s land in terms of legal responsibility for air pollution. It is not part of the Greater London Authorities Low Emission Zone and no single body has jurisdiction over nitrogen dioxide emissions on the river. However, DEFRA has the responsibility to address environmental pollution, but has chosen to abdicate responsibility for maritime pollution to the International Maritime Organisation. The Mayor has no responsibility for the river and the Port of London Authority Act does not cover vessel emissions. The European Union has declared a Sulphur Emission Control Area in the North Sea and English Channel, but this has no impact on nitrogen dioxide emissions or particulates.

onshore power solution

The alternative to running ships’ own engines for power is to hook up to electric on-shore power as other major cities do including Hamburg, Oslo, New York and Los Angeles. 


At the time permission was granted, Greenwich Council concluded that the installation of onshore power was not feasible as not enough vessels have the ability to plug into shore side power. Furthermore, that it "is unlikely that the huge investment in shore side power equipment (that would include at least several hundred metres and possibly several kilometres of cabling to connect to the electricity supply) can be justified." 


We have been campaigning for clean ship to shore power for the past three years. Having consulted with UK Power Networks and based on consultants' assumptions, we estimate the capital cost of plugging ships into the power network is about £6 million. This is set against a multi-million pound housing development and Greenwich borough projections of around  £25 million per annum in local benefits once the terminal is established. 


As regards ships' own capacity to use on shore power, this will require the industry to make changes similar to those adopted to the car industry when cars had to have catalytic converters fitted to their exhausts. The shipping industry has already started to adopt on shore power modifications. Furthermore, under UK law an alternative to burning diesel fuel in port will have to be found by 2025. Failing that, the cruise port will become unusable and, ultimately, a white elephant. Infrastructure and utility investment as part of the massive Greenwich riverside regeneration is taking place now. Retrofitting power cables for shore side power  later down the line makes no economic sense for either the authorities involved or investors.

Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles covers 43 miles of coast line and includes cruise ship as well as container terminals. It took several years to set up on shore power as part of a $400 million environmental programme. Approximately $200 million was spent on shore side power and it cost $7-8 million to fit out each berth. A further $1 million was spent on each ship for a standard plug. Since the installation of on shore power, air pollution monitoring has recorded:

  • 90% reduction in sulphur emissions

  • 85% decrease in diesel particulate matter

  • 50% reduction in NOX emisions

legal challenges

In February 2016, an East Greenwich resident challenged the Council's decision in the form of a judicial review, on the grounds that there had been inadequate assessment of cumulative emissions. The challenge was granted application to the High Court, but failed on the grounds that the original 2012 planning decision stood and objections to emissions had not been made at the time.  


Our next step was to petition to the European Parliament, which referred the case to the Commission. The Parliament published an Opinion that it was for the UK Government to achieve pollution limits (under Directive (2008/50/EC) and the Commission could not intervene.  Any extra pollution would, however, be subject to European infringement fine process, which is now quite advanced.

port development

Morgan Stanley owns the 1.95 acre plot and is currently marketing the land with planning permission for a figure in the region of £50 million through Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). The Enderby Wharf site is being rebranded as Maritime View (www.maratimeview.london). In addition to the cruise port, the development carries permission for retail and leisure units and 477 homes spread over three tower blocks all in excess of 20 storeys. The restoration of historic Enderby House, affordable housing and a training centre are included as part of s106 agreements.


Barratt London, the developer responsible for the residential part of Enderby Wharf has recently announced that they are pulling out of the crucial second phase of the project, which comprises the port.