Saturday 6 August 2022 10:07 AM Thames Water keep emergency drought plant SHUT 'because it costs too much to ... trends now

Saturday 6 August 2022 10:07 AM Thames Water keep emergency drought plant SHUT 'because it costs too much to ... trends now
Saturday 6 August 2022 10:07 AM Thames Water keep emergency drought plant SHUT 'because it costs too much to ... trends now

Saturday 6 August 2022 10:07 AM Thames Water keep emergency drought plant SHUT 'because it costs too much to ... trends now

A £250million emergency drought plant constructed by Thames Water may have been shut down because 'of the cost of electricity on it', a local MP has claimed. 

The Beckton desalination plant in east London was promised as a major reserve of potable water to cope with drier UK summers - but in a summer that has already seen the hottest temperatures ever recorded, it is out of use.

Desalination plants turn seawater into fresh water using a process called reverse osmosis and is energy-intensive, requiring both electricity and heat.

According to Thames Water, the plant costs around £660 per million litres to run compared to £45 per million litres for a standard plant. 

Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, questioned whether the closure was because ‘they aren’t willing to pay and run it’.

He told The Telegraph: 'It does seem puzzling to me when clearly we are in a situation which is exactly the kind of situation where this plant was intended to help us, it seems very strange that it’s out of action.

'If it’s planned maintenance, then surely you plan for a time other than when it’s most likely to be used?

'Is it because of the cost of electricity on it and they just aren’t willing to pay and run it? In which case obviously, they should tell us.'

The Beckton desalination plant (pictured) in east London was promised as a major reserve of potable water to cope with drier UK summers

The Beckton desalination plant (pictured) in east London was promised as a major reserve of potable water to cope with drier UK summers

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Abbotsbury in Dorset where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Abbotsbury in Dorset where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

Thames Water say their Gateway Water Treatment Works, also known as the Beckton plant, is 'out of service' because of 'necessary planned work'.

The plant, which was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2010, is the only one in the UK designed to turn salty seawater into fresh water. 

It said that regardless of the plant's current operational status, short-term hosepipe bans would still be required to curb water usage. 

The plant was first planned in 2004, but did not receive approval until 2008. Once completed in 2010 it has been used to fill up London's reservoirs during dry spells, but questions remain as to whether it has ever been fully operational.

It was originally marketed as being able to offer an additional 150million litres of water a day - but this has now been revised down by a third to 100million.

A Thames Water insider told The Telegraph the water company hoped to reduce operating costs by placing the plant on an estuary, meaning fresh Thames water would dilute the salt in seawater.

Thames Water say their Gateway Water Treatment Works, also known as the Beckton plant, is 'out of service' because of 'necessary planned work'. Pictured: Parched fields in Dorset

Thames Water say their Gateway Water Treatment Works, also known as the Beckton plant, is 'out of service' because of 'necessary planned work'. Pictured: Parched fields in Dorset

Stephen Timms (above), MP for East Ham, questioned whether the closure was because ¿they aren¿t willing to pay and run it¿

Stephen Timms (above), MP for East Ham, questioned whether the closure was because ‘they aren’t willing to pay and run it’

But it failed to account for different levels of salinity at various times of the day, meaning it cannot produce a constant supply of drinkable water.

There is no date set for when the plant is expected to become operational again, and four subsequent desalination plants initially planned by Thames Water have seen no significant progress made.

In the absence of the plant's capabilities, Thames Water will have to rely on customers cutting down on their water usage. 

It has already asked bill-payers to let their grass turn brown and their cars get dirty - and a hosepipe ban is widely expected to be needed in the capital.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: 'Our Gateway Water Treatment Works, more commonly known as our desalination plant in Beckton, east London was completed in 2010 to be predominantly used

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