Shoosmiths overcomes Livingstone’s Thames desalination plant objections

Shoosmiths has defeated London Mayor Ken Livingstone in a landmark planning inquiry to build the UK’s first large-scale desalination plant.

The £200m Thames Water scheme at Beckton in Essex will use an energy-intensive process to remove salt from the tidal section of the Thames. The process will provide enough clean water for roughly one million people.

The project was submitted for planning permission three years ago and won the support of the London Borough of Newham. But it was slammed by environmental campaigners and rejected by the mayor.

Shoosmiths head of planning Iain Gilbey, who has a 10-year relationship with Thames Water, led the inquiry team that advised on a heated five-week appeal last summer, working with Thames Water in-house lawyers Sarah Smith and Simon Byrne. Keith Lindblom QC and Suzanne Ornsby of Frances Taylor Building, who also have longstanding relationships with Thames Water, were instructed to appear at the inquiry, at which Livingstone appeared as a witness. Newham was represented by Douglas Edwards, also of Francis Taylor Building, instructed by Newham principal Anna Eastgate.

The scheme was approved by the Communities Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs after Thames Water pledged to use biodiesel renewable energy and to operate the plant only during extended periods of low rainfall.

The mayor was represented by John Hobson QC and Paul Stinchcombe of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, instructed by Greater London Authority senior legal adviser Frances Robinson.