News: Green objection to London desalination plant

An ‘energy guzzling’ desalination plant proposed to help with London’s dwindling water supplies has been given a strong thumbs down by mayor Ken Livingstone for climate change reasons.

The mayor argues that it is wasteful to extract water from the River Thames and use energy to desalinate it for drinking, when 915 million litres of clean, purified water is lost through leakage under London’s streets every day.

London is already feeling the effects of climate change, the mayor argues. He says it is now widely accepted that the sea level is rising, by about 6mm a year at high tide in the London area meaning that London is increasingly at risk from tidal flooding.

Other commentators say London is actually sinking, partly because of water extraction.

If Thames Water fixes leaks, the mayor argues, and reduces the demand for water through water saving devices and further educates customers about water conservation, there would be no need to build a desalination plant.

If a desalination plant were used it would mean that London was responding to climate change with a solution that adds to climate change. Furthermore, Mr Livingstone argues, such a plant will not help London’s current lack of water. If granted planning permission, it would not be operational until around 2009/10.

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