Contractors named to build east London desalination plant accused of being a pollutant

A consortium of Interserve, Atkins Water and Spanish firm Acciona has won the £200m contract to build a controversial desalination plant in the Thames Gateway.

Adrian Ringrose, Interserve chief executive

The water treatment plant was blocked by former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, but the plans have been resurrected following the election of Boris Johnson. It will be built in Beckton, east London, with completion due in late 2009.

The Thames Gateway scheme will be the first desalination plant in Britain, and will treat salty estuary water to create 140 million litres of potable water a day if the capital’s water supplies run low.

But opponents, who include Livingstone, the Green Party and the WWF, have said that the plant will be a pollutant and only a stop-gap solution to the problem of water shortages in the South-east. Thames Water has committed to power the plant with 100% renewable energy, and use it only when necessary.

Adrian Ringrose, chief executive of Interserve, said, "Interserve has a long and successful association with Thames Water and we are very aware of the key strategic part this plant will play in providing its customers with a long-term, high-quality water supply.”