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London desalination plant axed by mayor

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THAMES WATER said this week it would try to persuade London mayor Ken Livingstone to reverse his rejection of a planning application for a £200M desalination plant in East London.

'We do have the option of appealing [to deputy prime minister John Prescott] but we want to discuss things further with the mayor fi rst, ' said a company spokesman.

Livingstone this week overruled Newham Borough Council's decision to allow Thames planning permission for a 150M litres/day reverse osmosis desalination plant in Beckton.

Livingstone's letter to the council says: 'The application does not deliver the sustainable and effi ent management of water supplies in London.' It says the project goes against the strategy laid out in his London plan, which seeks to minimise the use of treated water and maximise rainwater harvesting.

'The desalination process is an expensive and energy intensive way of supplying water, ' he said.

Thames Water said that the scheme was a crucial part of its plans to ensure security of water supply for the capital. Without it, Thames has warned that London could soon run out of water at times of peak demand (NCE 6 May 2004).

It also said that 18 months of research and development, including construction of a pilot plant, had led it to develop an effi ent scheme. The reverse osmosis process selected requires less energy than a heat distillation plant and water coming from the River Thames requires less treatment than sea water.

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