Plans to industrialise the Port of Ramsgate will be discussed by the council’s Tory-run cabinet next week, but the public will be denied their democratic right to comment on what are extremely worrying if not highly dangerous, environmental and health damaging, proposals
The plans include the reintroduction, after a decade long absence, of RoRo ferry services at the port and the doubling in size of the Brett aggregate processing operation. The Cabinet intends to fund these plans by spending £9million of the levelling up award earmarked for Ramsgate.
Over the past decade a growing number of scientists, campaign groups, international organisation, and governments have identified ports as a major source of airborne pollution. This is caused by the diesel fuel which powers most ships and produces sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
But it’s not just ships which cause pollution. The cars and HGVs embarking and disembarking from RoRos, the equipment used by port staff, and port side industrial operations, all add to the environmental and health damaging, pollution tally of a busy commercial port. If the council’s plans to industrialise Ramsgate port are successful then this tally will quickly become dangerously high.
Public Health England estimated in 2019 “ that between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. There is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma”. Some of the victims will be from Ramsgate.
Make no mistake, the council’s plans to industrialise Ramsgate Port will put the health of local people at a serious and much elevated risk. But despite its declaration of a climate emergency and its ambition to be carbon net zero by 2030, the council has chosen to hypocritically and irresponsibly ignore the deadly effects associated with it plans for the port.
Not once in the report is there any mention of the increased level of air pollution resulting from the plans to industrialise Ramsgate Port and the danger this will pose to public health. Not once in the report does the council explain what action it will take to reduce the pollution that will be created by a busy commercial port located very close to a densely populated area.
Instead, the council demonstrates it utter contempt for environmental and public health by stating in the report that it plans:-
will not constitute a change in use and the investment required is likely to constitute permitted development under the legislative framework including the General Permitted Development Order. Commercial port operations that result from this project will not require an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
This means that an assessment of the overall environmental impact of its plans for the port, including the steep increase in air pollution and its effects on public health, will not be carried out. Nor will you, without an Environmental Impact Assessment process, be able to express your views on the matter.
For a council to propose spending £9million of taxpayers money on a project which is likely to significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and airborne pollution that puts at risk the health Ramsgate residents and to then deny the public any opportunity to comment on these matters, beggars belief.
The imposition of these plans without any public consultation is profoundly undemocratic and will reflect badly upon the Tory and Labour councillors who are said to be united behind this plan.
There is some hope though - when the council said that an environmental impact assessment wasn't needed for a new berth 4/5 at the port, I poved then to be them to be wrong!! I'm checking my lawbooks to see if I can proove them to wrong again.
I will be writing more about the council's port plans soon.