HC Deb 23 February 1973 vol 851 cc243-4W
Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) whether in view of the Water Resources Board report on application of desalination in the United Kingdom, Government Departments are continuing to support research and development on the production of fresh water from sea water;

(2) what is the level of Government research and development support being provided at present to the United Kingdom desalination plant industry; and how it compares with that of overseas Governments.

Mr. Onslow

Expenditure in 1972–73 on R & D of all kinds on the desalination of sea water, that is, excluding work, for example, on reverse osmosis for water renovating, is estimated to be as follows:

£ million
United Kingdom 0.3
United States 7
Germany 2.2
Japan 1

On desalination programmes already approved the UKAEA will be spending about£100,000 in 1973–74. In addition the authority is maintaining a small central R & D capability which meets the recommendation in paragraph 103 of the Water Resources Board report.

Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in setting up a European collaborative programme on desalination research and development.

Mr. Onslow

The UKAEA and United Kingdom industry have agreed to participate in a project under the COST (Co-operation European de la domaine de la recherche scientifique et technique) Group for improvement of materials for desalination plants. This project, in which other European countries are participating, will continue for three years.