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South West Water progresses plans to deliver desalination in Cornwall

  • South West Water progresses plans to deliver desalination in Cornwall

About the entity

South West Water
South West Water and Bournemouth Water are part of South West Water Limited, which is a member of Pennon Group PLC.

South West Water’s plans to deliver desalination in Cornwall as part of its investment in long-term water resilience across the region have progressed as it announces it will deliver the scheme in two phases.

The company is investing £125 million to increase water resources in Cornwall and Devon by 2025 to break the cycle of drought. This includes plans to deliver a climate-independent source of water to customers in Cornwall through a new desalination plant in Par.

Focussing on the pressing need to secure resilient water supplies, South West Water will deliver a smaller plant later this year, using existing infrastructure to avoid any impact to the marine environment.

This plant will be capable of producing between 2.5 and 5 million litres of clean drinking water each day when needed, and will allow more time to develop the application for a larger desalination plant. South West Water is working closely with experts to continue understanding the marine and natural environment in St Austell Bay to achieve this and remains committed to this outcome.

The proposed larger desalination plant will replace the smaller one and reuse as much of the existing infrastructure as possible to produce up to 20 million litres of drinking water daily, as previously announced by the company.

South West Water’s plans to deliver desalination in Cornwall as part of its investment in long-term water resilience across the region have progressed as it announces it will deliver the scheme in two phases

David Harris, South West Water’s Drought and Resilience Director, said: “Our current reservoir levels may look healthy following a wet winter and the interventions we and our customers have made, but the impact of climate change tells us we need to be more resilient to drought.

“Regulators are encouraging water companies to develop supplies that are resilient to the impacts of climate change, and desalination is one important step in a wider programme of work we are delivering to ensure resilient supplies across our region in the face of a changing climate.

“We share the passion that many locals have shown to protect the sensitive marine environment in St Austell Bay. Taking more time to fully understand this environment will allow us to enhance our proposals and be sure that we are doing everything we can to minimise any impact we have to marine habitats. We have been developing our plans to be consistent with other proposals for development for the area.”

South West Water is now working in consultation with stakeholders and regulators to complete further environmental surveys to support its planning application for the second phase. This will support the company’s previous extensive environmental assessments.

The business met with locals in December 2023 to discuss its proposals for desalination and will hold further public information events in the coming months before submitting a planning application for the smaller plant in the summer.

As part of South West Water’s wider investment plan to boost water resources in Cornwall by 45% and in Devon by 30% by 2025, it is also repurposing disused quarries such as Blackpool Pit and Hawks Tor.

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