Sunday 29 April 2018

Greenwich riverside path - peninsula - information


This is written from memory and may not be entirely accurate. I would therefore ask that it is regarded as confidential and that none of it is reproduced or quoted until I can write it up from referenced sources. I will try to add to it as more reliable information becomes available.

There is a lot of the path – but  this is basically about the stretch from Ballast Quay to the Yacht Club – but there are other problems – although different ones – all the way down to Thamesmead.

The path round the Peninsula is a traditional walkway along the top of the river wall.    In the 1870s the then Greenwich Vestry obtained a judgement at the Kent Assizes to ensure that it was open to the public having been stopped up by a shipbuilding company.   I am not clear on its current status – it is a ‘right of way’ not a highway, but rights of way in London are difficult. However, when the right of way was established Greenwich was in Kent.

In the late 17th century much of this riverside was passed to the Blackheath Charity, Morden College, who still own/control a great deal of it.  Other sites were in private or charitable hands.  The Enderby site was owned by the Government in the 18th century but has been private since.  Clearly the gas company (South Met. then nationalised from 1947) owned a large estate here and bought up some other sites when they fell vacant – this whole area was vested into the New Millennium Experience Company in the 1990s and is now with the GLA.  However most of it is leased to major holding companies, in some cases there are several layers of leases.

When the gas company was opened in the 1880s they were allowed to close the path around their works and they built Ordnance Draw Dock as what we would now call ‘planning gain’.  The draw dock is a right of way.  When the Dome was opened the closed stretch was reopened and upgraded but the operators of the Dome (AEG) have never done anything to enhance their interface with the path – and, probably don’t understand that the river is even there!! 

Between 1860 and 1970s most of the sites along the path were working wharves but the path remained open despite some problems and diversions. Several wharves were safeguarded in the 1980s and some have retained this status. Some wharves were still at work in the 1990.

In the 1990s the path was declared Cycle Path No.1. by SUSTRANS and criteria for turning the path into a fast cycle track were worked out.  I am very unsure of the planning process with this but it has meant that developers have to install a double paved strip and that there is planting between the path and the river (presumably for safety).  This is not the spirit of the river wall walk!   In 1998 the Council took Hansons to court over closure of the path through their site. The way was only proved by aerial shots showing painted footprints – but the judgement upheld the right of way.

Over the past few years industry has gone and developers have moved in.  In the late 1990s Groundwork, who work independently of the local authorities, did a lot of work on the path.  They did deals with various industries to plant trees and flowers and enhance the path. Amylum (sugar refinery on Morden Wharf) were already funding the Eltham Environment Centre and were very keen. Groundwork also spent a lot of time doing up the jetties.   At Enderby Wharf an artwork was installed on the steps and commissioned by Carol Kenna. (I have details)

In 2000 was the Millennium Exhibition – and local environmentalists produced a booklet ‘Millennium Domesday’ (I have a copy).    NME did not engage with locals or local industries about the path but some art works were commissioned which remain.  They also did a considerable amount of planting around the Peninsula – some of this has remained and is maintained by a workforce. I am not sure who is now running this but I think it is the same independent organisation which now owns the ecology centre and the parks.  They do not do the riverside path on the west bank which is supposed to be cared for by the various owners and the Council has enforcement powers on this. They maintain the east bank.  The decision to appoint a non-council operator for the parks and paths was taken by the Government.

As the 2000s progressed various sites were handed to developers. Lovells , Granite and Pipers Wharf were passed to developers by Morden College  - although Granite and Pipers were still active.  Two cranes on Lovells which the Council was trying to preserve (they were not accepted for listing by EH) were removed without notice by Morden College.   The wharves were developed with housing – and on one site an early medieval tide mill was discovered. Following community action in 2013 developers were refused planning consent for higher buildings and a compromise was later reached. The boat repair yard was moved to a purpose built site at Bay Wharf as part of the planning deal on what is now called Greenwich Wharf – but delay for many years means this move is very recent.

Meanwhile Alcatel sold the riverside strip at Enderby Wharf to developers – their factory remaining at work. The developer got planning consent for housing and a cruise liner terminal (with expressions of approval from some local groups and no obvious opposition).  They then went bankrupt and the site became derelict.  The adjacent site – the sugar refinery – was sold to a French farming co-op.  One day a demolition crew arrived, with no notice or liaison with the Council or the PLA, and demolished the entire site, including three silos which were being considered for listing. They left the site empty and derelict.  The victim of this was listed Enderby House which was trashed over the next year because there was no site security.

Later as Knight Dragon became more established a golf range has been set up on Delta Wharf and plans are in place for Point Wharf – and a hotel has been built north of the draw dock. Hanson’s have a factory on their aggregate works at Victoria Deep Water (this is a wharf which PLA are unlikely to agree to de-safeguard).    More recently housing has been built at Enderby by Barratt and a row has erupted around the cruise liner terminal following the submission of a new planning application for the site.  The old sugar refinery site at Morden Wharf is now with U&I whose plans are not really clear – as Cathedral they had a reputation for sites with a lot of amenity but they are a different organisation now.

In 2014 the Enderby Group was set up to lobby to ensure Enderby House was repaired and that some way be found to recognise the telecoms heritage of the site. The developer, Barratts, are thought to be planning a pub in the house. We are no further forward with anything else!

Currently Knight Dragon have left the Shooting Star at Point Wharf – and we understand that plans for the Aluna moon clock are still viable.   A sculpture trail from Three Mills on the Lee crosses the river and takes in art works as far as Shooting Star – it would be useful to extend it.  We also understand that the ‘secret ferry’ is to become a public facility following work at Trinity Buoy Wharf (can find out more about that).  However there are also plans for the hotel to use the old Ordnance Wharf jetty for hotel boats (I don’t see PLA agreeing to that but we shall see).

So – there are a certain number of conflicts here – and are added to by various rights on the foreshore (owned by the Crown) and the role of the Environment Agency in regard to the river and the foreshore.  Several of these bodes are not likely to engage with community representatives.

I am waiting for answers to a lot of questions about liaison between various bodies, about planning agreements on the river frontages, monitoring and responsibilities for damage, reporting, signage, information (for eg developers refused to put up info on the medieval tide mill) , safeguarding wharves. Will update this when I get answers.

And then there is the gasholder  - this is an interesting site which was the subject of a planning brief last year.  It has a number of buildings on it which will have to remain which include the Horniman Museum store and that club.  It is walking distance from Enderbys and indeed from most amenity sites on the Peninsula.  Just think what could be done with it!

In 1960 the architectural commentator Ian Nairn wrote:

This unknown and unnamed riverside path is the best Thames- side walk in London. It beats all of the embankments and water- gardens hollow. Best in this direction, because then the walk has a climax: the domes of Greenwich Hospital beckoning round the bend of the river, and a splendidly unselfconscious free house, the Cutty Sark.
The entrance certainly takes some finding: to get there, fork left facing the southern entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel with its pretty Art Nouveau gatehouse. About two hundred yards along, on the left, a passage leads down beside the Delta Metal Co. It zigs and it zags, but it doesn't give up, and eventually comes out at the river.
The start is now a sizeable belvedere, but the path soon takes on much more exciting forms: between walls, or unfenced above a slide down to the water, or wandering past timber wharves, under cranes and in one case nipping around the back of a boat yard. Never the same for a hundred yards at once, a continuous flirtation with the slow- flowing river, choked with working boats.
The first houses come in at the Cutty Sark (Union Wharf): then there is a final exciting stretch past Greenwich Power Station and the astonishing contrast with the Trinity almshouses next door, another good riverside pub (the Yacht), and the climax of the footpath in front of Greenwich Hospital. Not just a walk, but a stressed walk - mostly by accident. God preserve it from the prettifiers


East Greenwich Gas Holder - info sheet


This is a brief information sheet about the holder plus information on the current demolition plans.

Please support the petition  

(There are other descriptions of the holder further down the blog - but - sorry - I have managed to mess up the best one ) 

Biggest gas holder in Europe - an exceptional structure built to revolutionary principles - listing now refused - and scheduled for demolition - ideas for reuse apparently not considered


The gas industry in South London, beginning around 1820, had developed as a chaos of small competing private companies. Regulation was imposed on them by governments from the 1870s. This resulted in the area being dominated by Livesey’s South Metropolitan Company from the Old Kent Road. East Greenwich works was built in the 1880s as the out-of-town mega works which the government wanted to be built but it was also a show place for Livesey’s ideals and standards. Only perfection was good enough for South Met.!


A gas holder is like a cup turned upside down in a saucer which holds a pool of water. The cup is built in a tier of sections which can lift and fall according to the amount of gas in it. This one was built on George Livesey's revolutionary cylindrical shell principle which treats it as a single huge cylinder. There are many other revolutionary aspects to the design and materials and while the structure appears to be simple it is really very complex and different from the older, often highly decorative, holders.

It is far taller than would normally be expected. It has four ‘lifts’ which rise upwards and is the first holder ever built to this size. It rises to about 180 feet and holds 8.2 million cubic feet of gas. The great height of construction was made possible by new materials and it effected a great saving in cost which had a huge subsequent effect. It is it more efficient and lighter.  Costs of storage were also less in terms of land use and labour - and workers could be encouraged to go to church on Sundays even though Sunday dinners had to be cooked.

The holder is free of all decoration and it sets a new bench-mark for gasholder design of which it is a refinement in size and sophistication and an exploitation of the beauty of pure structural form. Ideas then being embodied in industrial and domestic design as the modern movement.


Some years ago English Heritage commissioned a report on London holders.  Very recently this report has been revisited and as a result an Old Kent Road holder has been listed and East Greenwich No.1 has not.

The holder has (April 2018) been given consent to demolition. Last year the Council drew up a planning brief for the site in which they said Proposals should respect and respond to the industrial character of the area as a means of relating new development to the local context. In particular, development should build on the heritage value of the gas holder to enhance the character and distinctiveness of the area.”  Following this an application was made for immunity to listings order – which does not get general consultation, although Greenwich Industrial History Society was aware of it and made a submission.  But the order was granted meaning that it could be demolished without a planning application

I am putting below an extract about the legal position by Matt Pennycook MP - which his consent (thank you Matt) - because it is a particularly clear and straightforward explanation

Crucially, the application SGN plc submitted was not a standard planning application but a ‘prior approval’ application. Securing prior approval allows developers to use permitted development rights i.e. the right to make changes without the need to apply for planning permission from the local planning authority. Local planning authorities have only 28 days to determine such applications (if they do not, there is a default in favour of grating permission). Local councillors who object cannot call such applications in, and, in the case of an application to demolish a structure, the local planning authority can only consider the method of demolition, not the principle of whether or not it should take place. In the case of the gasholder, our Council could scrutinise the method of demolition and they did just that, refusing SGN plc’s first prior approval application, but could not refuse the prior notification on the grounds that they would like to see some or all of the gasholder structure to be retained. It’s a frustrating situation, but one that is a world away from the impression created in some recent reports suggesting the Council has backed the demolition of the gasholder. 
As things stand, the granting of prior approval means that there is nothing that can be done to prevent the gasholder being lost should SGN plc wish to proceed with a demolition. However, the Council will continue to make efforts to reach out to SGN plc in the hope that the site owner will agree to at least begin a discussion about the heritage value of the gasholder and the range of creative proposals that could be brought forward to retain and make use of it. I very much hope they are successful
Matt Pennycook

I have also written to planners and influentual people asking them to get the planners to write more detailed letters to residents in cases like this where it is not a straightfordward planning application,. Residents who had raised objections just got a two line letter saying - the first time that it had not been given consent for demolition, and then - the second time that it had.  They deserved to be told what the actual situation was.  Would be grateful for backing for this.

Sunday 15 April 2018

Then three came along at once

After having not produced a Greenwich industrial history posting  for some months I thought I ought to do something.  Several newsletters have come in all at once - so – here we go

Industrial Archaeology News 184 Spring 2018. 

An article on England’s Major Civil Engineering Achievements mentions nothing in Greenwich. Under 'major tunnels' there is a short mention of the Brunel tunnel at Rotherhithe. I have written to say that they might have mentioned our much abused Blackwall Tunnel, built with much innovation 120 years ago and undertaking a heroic task on a daily basis. Would some of these other tunnels even begin to cope with what the Blackwall has to put up with??

There is an article by David Dawson about Crossness Engines, with reproduced notes and letters from the 1860 about firing on ranges in the Arsenal leading to  dangerous situation at the outfall.  He also mentions some confusion about the restored  grid-iron at the Arsenal where very large items were loaded onto barges.  He mentions another possible grid iron at Crossness used by the sludge barges and another at the Woolwich Ferry.
There is an article on gasholders - from a well known local source - and about the Greenwich holder in particular. We are very grateful for this publicity about the demolition of our local icon.
The newsletter also advertises a number of international events including a Congress in Santiago in September.  There are also insets on what appear to be two AIA conferences the summer  - one in Nottingham and at Wick.  Happy to send details to anybody interested

GLIAS  Newsletter

For those of you who Denis Smith, and maybe  went to his Goldsmith's class. GLIAS reminds us that on the 9th of June is a memorial service to Denis at Thaxted Parish Church in Essex  1430 and afterwards at the Swan Hotel. Its obviously a very very difficult place to get to and they would like notice of people who intend to go - email me for details.

Crossness Engines Records

Crossness has our Greenwich Mayor on its front page following his visit to the work. 
The issue also includes:
Some information on the asbestos issue
A plan for the bicentenary of Joseph Bazalgette's birth in 2019 and they are open to ideas

Work on the valve house which is now in use for their small engines collection following a major cleanup

News about the various railway projects and restoration of an known as Busy Basil and are looking for help with the project

An article about the use of the engine house in a number of feature films and television programmes

Docklands History Group.

Please note their annual conference on Shipbuilding on the Thames on 12th May. Booking details on their web site

Naval Dockyards Society

They have announced that the Navy Board projects at the National Archives has been extended for another year

Greenwich Industrial History Society has not been idle. We have had a series of meetings with a committee made up of people from all over the Borough who have experience in particular issues - and we would welcome more expert volunteers.
We are attempting to put together a gazetteer of industrial remains in the Borough of Greenwich co-ordinated at the moment by Peter luck. We hope to publish this in some form and would welcome help and advice
He also hope to put together individual booklets of interest to visitors - on subjects like the communications industry, trams, and similar subjects
We are also looking at the following issues and would be happy to add to the list. Please get in touch:
White Hart Road and proposed adaption of the old Plumstead Destructor into a community resource.
Spray Street Quarter. This includes proposals for a wide area which includes much of interest, like the listed covered market roof

Creekside  - there is concern about joining up schemes into a Riverside walk.  There are also issues around the railway lifting bridge
Enderby Group. This continues and is discussing possible artwork for the site. It is still not known what  is likley to happen to the cruise liner terminal proposals or the site which is now for sale. Work continues on Enderby House. We are also keeping an eye on Riverside closures.

Trinity Buoy Wharf , Although north of the river course there is a ferry service which runs from there to the Dome, and the arts and sculpture trail which runs down the Lea Valley is now planned to cross the river to take in art works on the peninsula riverside. We are in touch with Richard Albanese who is now working at Trinity Buoy Wharf on some of these issues, which include historic ships.
East Greenwich Gas holder. There is yet another planning application on management of its demolition by Southern Gas Networks. There seems to be little anyone can do about this process of demolition which is being forced forward. We also note that there is the same process going on with the Bell Green holders, despite their being listed by Lewisham Council.
Charlton Riverside - there is a vast plan for the usual housing which will take in some of the old rope works site and we need to keep an eye on remains there and also on remains of the Glenton railway
Arsenal - we understand that Peabody's  housing programme is keeping an eye on heritage assets and they have an officer in charge of this.  An archive by Ray Fordham is being scanned, An eye needs to be kept on the canal remains but  we understand the nitrating  plant will be saved and work continues on the 'Gog and Magog' grid-iron
There is an interest in street furniture and we understand information has come up about a local firm called Ginman.
For all of this help and information from YOU would be wonderful.

Thursday 12 April 2018

Report on Pollution Conference held 1994


I thought that - given the current debate on pollution - that it might be of interest to look back and see where we were 24 years ago.  

This is a report of a Conference held by Docklands Forum.  The Forum covered most of east London (technically they covered the Docklands regeneration area set up in the 1970s by the GLC which covered parts of Greenwich and Lewisham as well as what became the Docklands development area)

So - attendees and speakers came from all over the area - and we included a big pack of comments and responses from community groups from all around (sorry - I no longer have a copy of that)

- a few key points about the early 1990s

-  site remediation was still not always undertaken then, and there were many very dodgy sites. The Thatcher Government had effectively stopped any research although local authorities were often trying to  draw up contaminated sites registers. (I remember looking at the LDDC's sites register in disbelief!!)

-  air quality was clearly a big issue. Some authorities - notably Greenwich and Southwark - were building extensive monitoring networks and encouraging research by their EHOs.   But remember there was no 'on line' then.

-  lead based air pollution was a big issue in parts of Tower Hamlets. By 1994 this was based around the Murdoch print works but in years before that all school children were blood tested around the Island Lead Works.

-  power stations and powered recycling plants were an issue with many planned. I remember a big conference about this in Dartford.  But my memory of dates is getting a bit hazy.

So - some you will remember this conference - and some of you were there. So please comment.

I think it is possible that a final page is missing.  This is entirely my fault as in 1994 I was responsible for putting the set of papers together!! (sorry!) 




The pollution problems of East London will not be eradicated overnight. However, there is no doubt that this conference raised the profile of the stresses on East London's environment and the quality of life of its communities whilst providing a forum for discussion of the issues and prospective solutions.

The Conference held in mid-October on the 29th floor of Guy's Hospital Tower set an ambitious but realistic agenda with over fifty organisations directly participating through oral or written presentations. The involvement of statutory agencies, those in the business of government, community and environmental organisations acted as a timely reminder that the pollution issues of greatest concern have social, economic and environmental ramifications, the impact of which is common to us all.

The Conference's proceedings are currently being incorporated into a publication. In due course a synopsis of the pollution issues identified, their impact and identified realistic solutions will be presented at a Ministerial meeting. What follows is a short review of the salient issues discussed.

1.0 The Common Agenda

The Conference had a common agenda, the issues of which are complex and interlinked. To progress that agenda the Forum sought to establish consensus amongst an ever increasing number of stakeholders on what issues should be included, what action should be taken, by whom, and over what timescale. The outcome of this Conference must pass the test of realism, especially in political terms, as most of the issues we are concerned with are 90% politics and only 10% science and technology. The residual scientific and technological uncertainties will take a long time to resolve, so we must progress in the face of that uncertainty.

To wait for the resolution of all scientific and technological problems would almost certainly be counter productive. We must adopt a precautionary approach to all pollution issues which we do not fully understand.

2.0 Industrial Legacy

Like most major western cities, prevailing winds have always determined where 'bad neighbour industries' would be located. Being 'downwind', East London became the depository for large industry including the largest gasworks site in the world.

Given that the quality of land is intimately bound up with its past it should be of no surprise that land contamination in East London is widespread. However, before health and environmental concerns over contaminated land began to be reflected in new legislation, East London experienced tremendous pressure for land development, as a consequence of both the Government's commitment to preserving the Green Belt and regenerating Docklands.  Landowners and large industries were only too keen to exploit their resources in the boom years and unsurprisingly, a significant number of these sites were acquired and redeveloped, many for housing.

It is crucial that a full assessment of the significance of land contamination is carried out on existing or proposed development sites suspected of being contaminated. 

Where land contamination is identified, and where levels exceed the 'upper trigger concentrations', remedial action is required and should be undertaken immediately. 

Costs of remedial measures such as landfill could be anything up to £1 million to remove one metre of soil depth over 1 acre. Notwithstanding some legal recourse to the 'polluter pays principle' (notably statutory agencies taking remedial steps where pollution has already occurred and subsequently recovering the cost from those responsible), this can not successfully be achieved where those responsible have long 'disappeared' and where the current owner wasn't aware and has no money. This leaves the dilemma of who should pay, the tax-payer or the customer? If neither the tax-payer nor the customer pays then the local community continues to suffer.

Quite clearly reclamation costs prohibit development of many contaminated inner city sites and this is where the financial assistance of English Partnerships can be considered. English Partnerships (the Urban Regeneration Agency) currently has an initial budget of £250 million for regenerating areas of need in England, through reclamation and development of land, including the treatment of contaminated land. It is interesting to note that the sum for England is approxamately equivalent to the sum for Wales but half that for Scotland.

East London (Inner Thames Gateway) requires a comprehensive land contamination reclamation strategy and accordingly requires an English Partnership package that can call upon sufficient funds. 

2.1 Integrated Pollution Control

Many of the worst pollutants, those which can do most harm if mishandled or those hardest to dispose of safely, are industrial materials and by-products. Industrial processes with the greatest pollution potential come under Integrated Pollution Control (lPC) which is regulated by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMlP).

IPC is a medium and a legal basis which takes a holistic approach to ensure that any substances from industry which are released to the environment are directed to the medium to which they will cause the minimum damage be it to air, water or land .

Crucial to IPC is the principle that companies should use the 'best available techniques not entailing excessive cost' (BA TNEEC). The Chemical Industry (who are the highest spenders on pollution control equipment) foresee the time when the proactive state of today will become the statutory norm and the 'NEEC' of 'BA TNEEC' will become irrelevant. IPC embodies the precautionary principle and requires operators to use the BATNEEC to achieve the 'best practicable environmental option' (BPEO). Through IPC, HMIP regulates industrial releases through 'authorisations', industrial licences which permit operations of certain processes and their environmental consequence for a fee.

IPC was seen to be impeccable in theory but rather challenging in practice in so far as the regime will not be totally up and running until 1996 and has only had eight successful prosecutions since 1991, with five pending.

Prevention is better than cure and HMIP should have a greater obligation to press for the best technology of the today to be used to ensure that the environment of tomorrow is protected to the best of our ability. 

The Government should formulate and establish, as soon as possible, the promised UK Environmental Protection Agency. Without this body we will never have a true system of Integrated Pollution Control. 

2.2 The Printing Industry

Docklands has the largest concentration of newspaper printworks in Europe. Whilst many different pollutants are produced in the printing processes polluting air, land or water, the three major priority printing pollutants are:

- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in wash-up products (e.g, white spirit);
- screen printing reclamation products; and
- flexographic inks.

In particular, there is great international concern over VOCs for four reasons:

- some of them are toxic or carcinogenic;
- some of them contribute to stratospheric Ozone depletion;
- most of them make an indirect contribution to global warming;
- most of them contribute, in varying degrees, to the formation of ground level Ozone.

The UK (along with all other EU countries) is committed to a 30% reduction in VOCs
emissions between 1988 and 1999 and the printing industry is a major player.

VOC alternatives in wash-up have been on the market for almost a decade. In fact vegetable oils (Vas) have now been used in numerous countries including the US, Japan, Denmark and Germany for some time now. The 'Daily Express' printers in Manchester use mainly VOs for wash-up purposes which minimise the direct health risks to workers as well as reducing the contribution to ground level Ozone, global warming and the destruction of the Ozone layer. There should be no excuse why East London continues to be exposed to vac emmssions from the printwork industry when there are acceptable pollution free alternatives on the market.

Newspaper printworks in Docklands should immediately begin replacing their wash-up Volatile Organic Compounds with Vegetable Oils along the lines of the Daily Express works in Manchester. 

All major companies and organisations in East London (e.g, hospitals, educational establishments etc.) should be assisted by relevant authorities (DoE, HMIP, etc) to develop 'Life Cycle Analyses' of their goods and services in order to consider the localised and wider implications of their use of specific materials such as VOCs. 

2.3 Industry and Community

Quite clearly, industry cannot exist in isolation and community cannot ignore the need for industry and the economic wealth it can bring. There is irrevocable inter-dependence.

Companies in East London should follow the example set by Pura Foods, and formulate environmental policies which reflect their responsibilities to the environment and to society at large. 

3.0 Water Pollution

Water, necessary for life itself, is also a natural resource of environmental, economic and social importance. It therefore needs to be protected and managed. The driving force for monitoring, understanding and controlling water quality is a concern for both the environment and human health.

The National Rivers Authority (NRA) has the direct responsibility for maintaining the quality of water in both rivers and underground aquifers. To achieve this the NRA controls all discharges to watercourses by means of discharge consents. Conditions are attached to consents which relate to the volume and type of discharge and the quality standard of that discharge.

In London, natural climatic circumstances also generate pollution incidents. Notably at times of high rainfall the capacity of London's Victorian sewerage system becomes inadequate and the Thames receives a large polluting load from storm overflows as well as the discharge from sewage works on the river.

London requires its sewerage system to be upgraded to eliminate storm overflow problems (at current prices the cost is estimated at £0.5 billion). 

Despite the NRAs planning and pollution prevention work, the risk of pollution from both accidents and deliberate unconsented discharges is still phenomenally high and as a consequence water quality in many rivers has declined in recent years.

Although prosecutions are on the increase (over 400 in 1993/94), catching polluters and successfully prosecuting them is not always accomplished and when it is, fines are often too lenient.

The severity of pollution incidents must be reflected in fines. 

4.0 Air Quality

Air pollution is a non-specific term for a complex cocktail of chemicals produced directly by vehicles and industrial plants, 'primary pollutants', as well as those produced by the primary pollutants in combination with sunlight, 'secondary pollutants'.

The main air pollutants of concern in London include: Sulphur Dioxide; particulates; Carbon Monoxide; Nitrogen Oxides; VOCs; and photo-chemical smog (Ozone).

4.1 Air Quality Management

Local authorities have long recognised that they have an important part to play in improving air quality. With the demise of GLC support, research initiatives have became fragmented. However, an increasing number of authorities, with support from the ALA, LBA and SEIPH, are now striving to improve air quality in a more structured way by adopting a local air quality management system. The scheme is being implemented by the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) and contains three major components:

- monitoring;
- emission inventories;
- pollution dispersion modelling.

LAQN currently receives funding from the Regional Health Authorities. Its funding of £80,000 compares poorly with the £1.2 million available for Paris.

The London Air Quality Network is underfunded and requires greater commitment from Government. 

A sufficiently robust set of national air quality standards should be in place which should be enforceable at local levels. It should not be necessary for local authorities to set their own targets. 

5.0 Road Transport Toxic Emissions

Road transport is a substantial source of toxic emissions, some of which are major factors in local air pollution. In London, the contribution of road transport to total emissions is higher than the average for the UK as a whole, as this is largely due to the sheer concentration of road traffic.

The average Londoner breathes about 230 million litres of air during a life-time. It would be reckless to assume that such vast consumption of air could have no effect on our health!

There is definitive evidence that air pollution is associated with long term increases in mortality. Epidemiological studies have suggested, for example, that traffic pollution probably killed up to 160 Londoners in less than a week of foggy weather during December 1991 when cold static weather trapped air pollutants.

5.1 PM10 and particulates

Black smoke in London, which includes the smallest particles known as PM10 (those of less than 10 microns in diameter), can reach the deepest recesses of the lungs and is strongly associated with increased ill health and respiratory infections.

96% of black smoke is now derived from road traffic, with 80% of that being derived from diesel engines. For many years diesel was wrongly heralded as a 'green fuel' with the consequence that diesel engine vehicles have made a significant penetration into the UK market.

It is very difficult and expensive to eliminate or clean up PM10 particles from diesel exhausts. Any solution to eradicate the significant threats to London's air quality posed by PM10 will be dependent upon decreasing the attractiveness of cars, taxis, buses and lorries which run on diesel.

The Government should promote the use of alternative vehicle fuel. In London, taxis and buses are major PM10 polluters, but the technology enabling them to run on gas, for example as they do in Japan, which is infinitely safer for human health is available.

There should be discouragement of the use of diesel through legislation (it was totally wrongly heralded as a 'green fuel') and tighter VOC controls for petrol pumps and vehicles).

There should be financial incentives to persuade vehicle owners to have catalytic converters fitted where possible in order to remove primary pollutants. 

Diesel engines incompletely combust fuel, producing a combination of particulate matter and polynuclear aromatic carbons which are already acknowledged as carcinogenic. Measures to tackle diesel pollution lag well behind those already being introduced for petrol pollution. In London, for example, heavy goods vehicles produce the majority of airborne particulate matter, hence the pollution situation no doubt will be worsened by the recent announced demise of the London Lorry Ban.

The London Lorry ban should be reinstated. 

A wide variety of devices exist to trap PMIO. Diesel vehicles, especially lorries, should 
be fitted with them. 

5.2 Asthma in London

Asthma rates in East London are 80% above national rates, with Tower Hamlets having the single highest borough rates. Rates of asthma amongst children are particularly alarmingly with, for example 17% of all 8 year olds in Newham suffering from the illness. As only the most severe cases go to hospital current data only reflects the tip of the iceberg.

Data of respiratory problems, especially asthma, treated by GPs should be routinely available and monitored. 

More generally, asthma levels have significantly increased in the last fifteen years with the consequence that hospital admissions, consultations and prescriptions for anti-asthmatic drugs have more than doubled in that period. The estimated cost to the nation in 1994 has been calculated to be close to £1 billion.

Whilst some of this increase may be due to more accurate diagnoses of asthma there is now substantial evidence linking asthma with air pollution both at epidemiological and population
level. Air pollution also affects other vulnerable groups, such as those with chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the elderly, and the very young, including unborn children. The total number of Londoners in vulnerable groups at risk from air pollution exceeds one million.

There should be a recognised network promoting awareness and working to reduce environmental hazards. 

Guy's Hospital experienced a 1000% increase in admissions for bronchial and asthmatic complaints during the pollution episode of June 1994. This reinforces the fact that South East London can not afford to lose Guy's Accident and Emergency unit

The current Government plans to close Guy's Hospital should be scrapped and Guy's Hospital Campaign to establish an asthma centre should be given full Government support. 

5.3 Monitoring

Comprehensive air quality monitoring in London does not exist, as yet, exist. There are only three monitoring sites in London which meet EU standards

Little of the monitoring undertaken by local authorities, the Warren Springs Laboratory (recently liquidated by the DTI), and the DoE, little complies with EC directives because the range of sites they monitor are predominately 'urban background pollution' sites as opposed to 'canyon like streets' such as busy intersections.

The Government should ensure that existing monitoring sites should be upgraded wherever possible to conform to EU standards. 

That future monitoring equipment be located at sites that record the true values of  pollution (e.g. curbside locations). 

Failure to measure highest concentrations of pollutants at the roadside in London renders air quality data disjointed and incoherent which in turn reduces our understanding of how relatively short time exposure to high concentrations of 'pollution cocktails' provokes the deterioration in our health.

Air quality monitoring should be made a statutory requirement for local authorities. 

Clearly there is scope for further selective, properly targeted, DoE funded exercises in monitoring.

Further research is specifically required to assess the 'cocktail effect' on health.

The Government should assist in the setting up of a regional pollution monitoring network which will continuously monitor air pollutants and meterological conditions. This should require automatic data transfer from monitoring sites to council offices. 

Data is only worth collecting if London has a statutory authority/government mechanism in place to know what to do with them. Currently London has neither.

5.4 Recent East London Initiatives

Southwark's £250,000 European Life Project has secured a continuous curb side monitoring station and has pioneered the use of the 'Denver FEAT' system to identify passing vehicles causing gross pollution on the Old Kent Road. Through infra-red and computer technology Southwark has been able to identify approximately 25 'smog hogs' per hour, but require police cooperation to stop and inform.

Local authorities require the introduction of new powers to deal effectively with smoking vehicles on the road at a local level, without requiring the assistance of the police. 

Local authorities should have the power to issue fines (nationally set) and legally require the vehicle owner to have the vehicle checked at an MOT testing station. 

The London Boroughs of Greenwich and Tower Hamlets along with the South East Institute of Public Health are currently undertaking research to establish the influence of air pollution on the respiratory health of school children in the north and south Thames Region. Currently three schools in each Borough are involved, but the project can only last one year due to the insifficient funding.

The Government should closely monitor the progress of such research and ensure that additional funds are made available to enable it to continue. 

The Livesey, Southwark's children's museum has created and 'Air Aware' exhibition aimed at raising awareness amongst children. The exhibition takes an interactive look at air from an all encompassing viewpoint and embraces themes such as weather, wind energy, respiratory problems and air pollution.

User friendly exhibitions directed at children of school age are an important element in the education of the next generation. Such exhibitions should be funded by the Departments of Health, Education and Environment. 

The London Guildhall University has launched a new Environmental Centre for London to provide quality training and consultancy to business and industry in the areas of environmental management, environmental policy formulation and environmnetal enterprise.

5.5 Transport Energy

The London Energy Study (undertaken by LRC) has identified that in London 37% of all car journeys are under 2.2 miles, but use approximately 0.5% of the total energy used in the EC. Road transport consumes 26% of the total amount of energy used in London.

There should be positive encouragement of less environmentally damaging modes of transport which either make little demand on energy and do not pollute (walking and cycling) or make less demands on energy and pollute less (various forms of public transport). 

5.6 Pollution alerts and quality of information

When pollution is likely to reach dangerous levels, information should be passed on to local and national media in order that those vulnerable to pollution can receive clear advice about what they should do. The current freephone DOE air quality service (0800 ) does not provide an adequate user-friendly service.

Current DoE protocol of defining air quality as "very good", "good", "poor" or "very poor" is totally inadequate and does not reflect World Health Organisation graduation standards.

The DoE must re-evaluate their use of such crude definitions and favour more 'user- friendly' indexes with a greater number of gradations which are capable of clarifying pollution episodes to a greater extent. 

The main thrust of pollution alert advice should be directed at those causing the problem, not those suffering the consequences. 

There should be legal powers to control traffic during pollution episodes. 

The Departments of Health, Transport and the Environment should encourage the national media and local broadcasting systems (e.g, Cable TV) to carry regular reports on air quality . 

5.7 East London's Roads Jeopardy

Aside from vast tracts of contaminated land, East London suffers from 'motorway type' roads slicing through boroughs taking commuters daily to and from the City, leaving behind its noise and exhaust emissions.

The launch of the 'Thames Gateway' (formally the East Thames Corridor) initiative outlining the Government's commitment to economic regeneration coupled with environmental enhancement should be based on sustainable transport policies which favour developments such as the Woolwich Rail Crossing and relegate, for good, the unacceptable and unsustainable notion that East London requires further major road transport developments.

To guarantee a long-term improvement in East London's air quality it is vital that London develops and implements a rational coherent integrated public transport strategy. 

Encouraging more vehicles means more pollution, therefore all means available should be used to curb traffic growth in East London, if not decrease it.

There has to be a clear shift from the 'Roads Programme' towards the public transport programme. 

There should be clear legislative incentives to persuade motorists to avoid using their cars especially on pollution alert days. 

5.8 Heliport Threat

Helicopters are the noisiest form of transport known. Unlike fixed wing aircraft, helicopters are far more disruptive because of the long duration and type of sound they produce: a 'blade slap' sound which intensifies as the helicopter takes off and lands.

The current proposal for a floating 'aircraft carrier' on the Thames which could facilitate up to 22,000 helicopter movements p.a. should be vigorously opposed. Instead the River Thames should be promoted for river bus services. 

5.9 London's Public Transport
Much of London's public transport is old, in poor condition with declining standards. Through the spending of 50% more on trunk roads and motorways over the last eight years, the Government has continued to starve London's public transport of the money needed to improve services. Government expenditure on British Rail has been cut by 25% and spending on London Transport remains woefully inadequate.

This year: - investment in Network SouthEast will amount to an estimated £250 million, compared to
the £475 million needed;

Monday 2 April 2018

The first Harbour Master's House

Harbour Master's House.

We all know the Harbour Master's House on Ballast Quay - it was part of a complicated network set up to try and regulate the huge numbers of coal ships from the north in the river in the 19th century.

It was a rebuild of an older Harbour Master's Office which was at 'Highbridge Place'.  I found a web site which says it became the Three Crowns Pub, which was alongside the Highbridge draw dock.

Does anyone know anything about this and if it is true??