Pollution Problem: Southampton Should Be Paving The Way For Shore-side Power ASAP

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Currently, power for cruise liners in port is still sourced from their own on-board polluting diesel generators. This is problematic to say the least. 

This comes alongside a recent BBC investigation which discovered the Port lacks an intuitive framework for measuring pollution produced in port. One potential- but expensive- solution would be to bring in legislation to force cruise and port companies to install their own monitoring equipment on cruise-liners as well as port-side.

Air pollution in UK cities has seriously debilitating health implications. In 2014, Southampton was named one of the worst cities for pollution by the World Health Organisation (WHO), particularly for Particulate Matter PM-10.

Just a year later, a report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), entitled ‘Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution’, reported that the nation’s pollution has directly contributed to an excess of 40,000 related early deaths. This was from PM and Nitrogen Dioxide alone. The port of Southampton is believed to contribute 23% of Air Pollution to the city, as claimed by Southampton City Council.

“The nation’s pollution has directly contributed to an excess of 40,000 related early deaths.” Credit: Pixabay

This month, the time was up for the UK to address “persistent breaches” of air pollutants (including harmful nitrogen dioxide), after it was dealt a “final warning” from the European Commission. It has has been partially tackled by the UK government, who are currently devising a diesel car scrappage scheme. This may not be incentive enough however for the millions of diesel vehicle owners, and needs to be combined with further solutions.

The shorthand argument from an Associated British Port (ABP) spokesman iterated futility, based on the reason that shore-side energy would be sourced from the UK National Grid, where half of UK energy is already sourced from carbon emitting non-renewables’ on a daily basis. Port Director, Alastair Welch, aired that conversion of ships to solar and hybrid is the better solution, though did not elaborate on how long such developments would take – most likely not in the next decade.

This is an understandable argument only for those that are willing to invest long-term, purely due to the monetary implications these companies would face with the current diesel strategy.

“Where half of UK energy is already sourced from carbon emitting non-renewables on a daily basis.” Credit: Pixabay

There is, however, the issue of providing the secondary power source to ships; a problem that needs to be taken seriously and addressed right away. The ABP is arguably short-sighted given the ever decreasing dependency on fossil fuels by the UK National Grid. Ultimately they need to lead to way and introduce shore-side power.

Tristan Fischer, a Renewable Energy Expert and owner of the ‘History, Future. Now.’ blog/column recently wrote that we will soon be “In a world where most transport is derived from wind and solar electricity” and that “it does not take much to believe that we will reach the effective end of the fossil fuel age within the next 20 to 40 years.” With an adapting UK National Grid, and foresight that both shipping and airspace industries will be some of the last to convert their design and current technologies to renewables, this is argument enough to warrant current change.

“In a world where most transport is derived from wind and solar electricity” and that “it does not take much to believe that we will reach the effective end of the fossil fuel age within the next 20 to 40 years.”

In sight of the upcoming General Election, the Southampton Green Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats have all aired their concerns over the environmental hot-topic, and are pushing for the government to assist with investments in shore-side technology. The Green Party have made a number of poignant outcries also regarding how Southampton is regularly in breach of European Air Quality Standards.

Thomas Gravatt, Politics Student at University of Southampton and Lib. Dem. candidate for Southampton Test, said “we need to do serious work on air pollution in particular… Introducing shore-side power for large ships in the port would be a good start.”

“we need to do serious work on air pollution in particular… Introducing shore-side power for large ships in the port would be a good start.”

It is evident that there are no two-ways about the current environmental situation being faced in Southampton, where mitigation strategies, along with growing renewable energy sources, provide a win-win case to tackle both air pollution and climate change.

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Oceanography Student with an opinion, concerning local issues and global environmental cases.

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