Last week brought the terrific news that plans for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf in east Greenwich will not now go ahead, as a result of the tireless work of No Toxic Cruise Port campaigners.
Laura Eyres and the rest of the team behind No Toxic Cruise Port ran a hugely impressive campaign, along with East Greenwich Residents’ Association – and they and everyone who opposed the plans are rightly celebrating a job well done.
The approach they took was a model of what a local campaign can achieve. This was always a hugely frustrating issue.
It is undeniable that a cruise liner terminal would have brought significant economic benefits to Greenwich – and on its own, this would have been extremely welcome.
However, the decision to reject the use of onshore power presented a simply unacceptable risk to air quality – and the prospect of pollution levels equivalent to 600 lorries with their engines running should have been enough to sink the plans long ago.
The central choice made by campaigners to take the more nuanced position of lobbying for either ‘a clean terminal, or none at all’ – was, I think, decisive in their success – as evidenced by the wide political support for the campaign, and the more than 7,000 signatures on their petition handed into the council in June.
This pragmatic approach meant they succeeded where many campaigns do not – uniting a large section of local residents together with politicians from all political parties around this common aim.
They also made the cruise liner terminal one of the main issues that dominated May’s local elections.
Local Conservatives –including Blackheath Westcombe Councillor Geoff Brighty who, as a member of the planning board, had voted against the plans back in 2015 – backed the petition, along with candidates from the Greens and Liberal Democrats, with several Labour councillors and candidates breaking ranks with their leadership to do the same.
The result was to force Greenwich Labour leadership into a 180 degree turn – from outright support for the Terminal despite the lack of on-shore power, to opposing the plans after the election.
I am pleased that the council and site owner Morgan Stanley have finally taken notice of the community’s objections – and I hope we will see proposals for the site that deliver the affordable homes we need.
We are, unfortunately, still lumbered with other environmentally damaging projects that the Labour Party has imposed on Greenwich like the IKEA that is currently flying up on the Peninsula, and Sadiq Khan’s planned extension of the ULEZ road charging zone to the South Circular.
But with the Cruise Liner Terminal, at least, residents can breathe a sigh of relief.
The team behind No Toxic Cruise Port should clear their diaries – their advice for other future local campaigns is going to be in high demand.