ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Ian Pearson this week backed desalination as a necessary technology to serve water stressed areas in south east England.
'I do believe that desalination plants may be necessary as part of plans for some water companies in the medium term to ensure security of supplies, ' he said.
Pearson was speaking at a Water UK sponsored Labour Party conference fringe event this week.
Thames Water saw Pearson's comments as a positive indication that it will get the go ahead to build its £200M, 140Ml/day plant in Beckton, east London.
'It is encouraging, ' said Thames Water environment director Richard Aylard of Pearson's comments.
'The planning inspector is due to make his report at the end of this month and this will then go to ministers for approval. We expect a decision towards the end of the year, ' he said.
The company is awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry as to whether the plant should go ahead (NCE 29 June).
Its plans were initially vetoed by London mayor Ken Livingstone who says that desalination is too energy intensive.
Thames is one of three water companies believed to be considering the technology.
South East Water has just completed an 18 month trial of a pilot plant at Newhaven Port in East Sussex. This will only be used during extended dry periods and will deliver day to day supplies.
Like Thames, South East would use reverse osmosis, which is less energy intensive than heat treating water.
'I agree that desalination is hugely energy intensive and not good for the environment.
'We need to come up with more long term solutions and we can do a lot more in terms of improving efciency, ' said Pearson.