Lack of UK Shore Power Solutions Back in the Spotlight Amid Air Quality Concerns at Britain's Biggest Cruise Port

Friday March 10, 2017

The lack of shore power solutions for vessels calling at UK ports has come under the spotlight once again amid air quality concerns at Southampton, Britain's biggest cruise port.

A recent BBC investigation revealed that Southampton - said to be among the most polluted cities in the UK - does not monitor air quality at its port area because it has no way to measure air pollution resulting from the emissions of ships visiting the port.

Still, Southampton City Council says the port contributes to an estimated 23 percent of the city's total air pollution.

"The challenge has been in particular there is no one standard for shore power. I'd like it in place as soon as possible," said Alastair Welch, Port Director at Associated British Ports (ABP).

"I should emphasise shore power is not the only answer and that's why we're working with solar power and hybrid ships now, because all of them have a part to play for the future."

The news comes not only at a time when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is facing increasing pressure to make concrete decisions on what it will do to reduce global shipping emissions, but at a time emissions from shipping are coming increasingly into the eye of the general public.

Elsewhere in the UK, the proposed London City Cruise Port at Greenwich's Enderby Wharf has been the focus of opposition groups calling for shore-based power to be made available at the terminal.

And as Ship & Bunker reported in June last year, the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) vessel and largest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, became the focus of residents' concern over air pollution at the vessel's base port of Barcelona.

While a set of global rules to address ship emissions is by far the preference of the industry (the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) for one believes a patchwork of regional regulations would lead to "chaos and market distortion"), another sign the issue is of growing public concern is the recent indication from Europe that it will not wait indefinitely for IMO to take action.

As Ship & Bunker reported last month, MEPs voted in favour of the inclusion of shipping emissions in the European Union's (EU's) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 2023 if the IMO does not have a comparable system operating for global shipping from 2021.