London Mayor to appeal against desal decision

London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has announced he plans to launch a High Court appeal against the Government's decision to give plans for a desalination plant on the banks of the Thames the go ahead.

The facility, which will be run by Thames Water, was only given the green light after the company promised to put environmental protection measures in place and use energy from renewable sources to power the plant.

Thames Water was granted permission to build the £200m desal plant by the Secretaries of State for Communities & Local Government and Environment, Food & Rural Affairs following a public inquiry last year.

While desalination is a well established means of sourcing fresh water, particularly in drought afflicted areas where sea water is plentiful such as California and the Gulf states, the plant would be the first major use of the technology in the UK.

The plant would not be operational at all times, only when water supplies were stretched, and would be built on open land near Beckton, East London.

Mr Livingstone opposed the plant during the inquiry and has previously called upon the water company to replace existing infrastructure before building the energy-greedy plant which, he argued, was unnecessary to provide London with enough water.

He is appealing against the Government’s decision as he believes that the Secretaries of State may not have given proper consideration to his case and may not have properly examined the feasible alternatives to a desalination plant.

The Mayor said: “I am challenging the Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to a desalination plant as I do not believe the evidence we put forward at the public inquiry was given proper consideration.

“Thames Water should be fixing more leaks rather than finding expensive ways to spend Londoners’ money on making fresh water. They have the worst leakage record in the UK and the water produced by this plant won’t even come close to replacing what they waste every day.

“Londoners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to tackle climate change and reduce water consumption. Last summer we managed to save nearly three times more water than this plant can make through our drought campaigns, a much cheaper and far more sustainable solution to our water supply problems than the proposed desalination plant.

“Adding £200 million to Londoners’ water bills to spend on a technology more appropriate for the desert is simply a disgrace. I cannot sit back and allow that to happen.”

Sam Bond

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