The assessment of the potential emissions from the Enderby Wharf development was a “catalogue of errors” after Greenwich Council failed to investigate the cumulative impact, a court has heard.

A judicial review began at the High Court yesterday into the council’s decision to approve the Enderby Wharf development, which includes an international cruise liner terminal on the Thames.

The legal action was brought by an east Greenwich resident who lives around 450m from the development site and as a protected party on account of his learning disabilities has been kept anonymous during proceedings.

Jenny Wigley, for the claimant, said by failing to undertake cumulative research, the council’s planning board was unable to assess the total emissions from the ships, road traffic, and the onsite energy centre proposed to run the 770 homes when they made the decision last year.

She said: “Air quality is the effects of NO2 molecules on the lungs.

“It is absolutely crucial that the total effect of these molecules is assessed. In this case they were not.”

An artist's impression of the Enderby Wharf Cruise Liner Terminal.

Ms Wigely claimed the council carried out its assessments “ad hoc” when it commissioned two separate reports into the effects of shipping emissions and the background sources such as traffic.

She said an exercise looking at cumulative emissions would have shown “moderate to substantial adverse effects” which could potentially have made a difference to the planning board’s decision.

“There may have resulted in a refusal or a quest for more information as to the possibility of shore side power,” she said.

“It would have had a material influence on the decision making and that is something that should have happened.”

'Proper picture'

A cumulative assessment would have given the council a “proper picture” of all of the sources of emissions and the levels recorded at the receptors which monitor NO2 levels at the site, she said.

One of the reports, commissioned by Royal Haskoning – an engineering consultancy – looked at the emissions from the hoteling cruise liners at Enderby, but it was not presented to the planning board or members of the public until the evening of the meeting in July last year, the court heard.

The judge Mr Justice Collins said legal objections by concerned residents and groups should have been raised at the time, but Ms Wigley said members of the public did not have the expertise to do so.

She said: “They are local residents who are concerned about their own local air quality. They are entitled to trust the council to do things properly.”

The court heard that an air quality expert adviser for the previous London Mayor Boris Johnson had agreed the emissions from mid-size hoteling ships were equivalent to that of 688 permanently idling HGVs.

However Ms Wigley told the court that the former Mayor’s office also failed to look at the effects of the cruise liner cumulatively.

She said: “This has been a catalogue of errors in my submission.”

The court heard that the claimant does not object to the cruise liner terminal being built, but instead the impact of the emissions which could be avoided by using an on-shore power supply.

'Very little opposition'

Thomas Hill QC, representing Greenwich Council, said there was “very little opposition” to the Enderby Wharf development and no objections based on air quality when it was first considered by the planning board in 2012.

He said: “The development was welcomed with open arms.”

The court heard from January last year, the Thames was deemed an emissions control area which means ships have to use fuel with a sulphur content of less than one per cent – something Mr Hill said the council “took comfort from”.

He said: “The result of which has been that shipping on the Thames is now obliged to use fuel which is significantly cleaner than that which would have been permitted before.”

But Judge Collins said the limits on sulphur would have no effect on the levels of NO2 emitted from ships and background sources.

The hearing continues.