Representatives from South West Water attended a meeting last Thursday of Tywardreath and Par Parish Council to make a presentation and answer questions from councillors about the proposed desalination plant at Par. 

Nearly 50 members of the public attended the presentation at the Methodist Chapel in Tywardreath, by Mick Gardner, South West Water’s project manager for the proposed plant; Guy Doble, programme director for drought resistance; and Seb Rowe from the public engagement team. 

They confirmed details of plans to install eight containerised desalination units at the Hensbarrow Dries site (opposite Spit Beach) with the intention to have the plant operational by the end of 2024.

If the proposal goes ahead, a pipeline from the plant will extract up to 60 megalitres of water daily from St Austell Bay, returning 40 megalitres into the sea as concentrated brine.  

The planned extraction pipe will be directionally drilled under the seabed for some of its length before being laid in an open trench, collecting sea water approximately 1.3-1.4km offshore with a discharge pipe proposed to extend around 3km offshore.

Guy Doble stated that surveys are currently incomplete with regard to the effects on the vital seagrass and maerl beds, both an important source of carbon sequestration. The seagrass beds are home to at least 122 marine species, including the rare and protected short snouted seahorse.

Desalinated water will be transferred to Restormel Treatment Works via a 13km pipeline which will be 1.5metres underground on a route planned to ‘minimise’ impact on sensitive habitats, species and land. The intention is to sterilise a 30-metre strip of land, check for archaeological interest, take off the topsoil, dig a trench, lay the pipe and replace the soil. 

In answer to a direct question, Guy Doble said that during the current investment period, which ends in 2025, the cost of the project would have no impact on customer bills. South West Water has agreed to hold further community engagement sessions. Questions on the proposals can be asked directly via [email protected] 

The local Desalination Information Group is continuing to collect and share information. For regular updates email [email protected] and add your contact information.