Brine fears for beach’s future

Coun Lorraine Beavers (below) has concern over Halite's brine pumping plan.

Coun Lorraine Beavers (below) has concern over Halite's brine pumping plan.

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IMPROVEMENTS to Fleetwood’s beach could be shortlived if an energy firm’s plans to store gas under the Wyre countryside go ahead, a community leader has claimed.

Fleetwood beach received a mandatory pass mark from the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide last week, after failing the test last year.

Coun Lorraine Beavers

Coun Lorraine Beavers

But Coun Lorraine Beavers, Wyre councillor for Pharos ward, says she is concerned about the impact Halite Energy’s proposals would have on water quality.

The firm has applied to carve out 19 caverns in the salt strata beneath Preesall and store 900 million cubic metres of natural gas and flush brine from the caverns into the Irish Sea.

Halite bosses today said they were confident the beach would not be affected.

But Coun Beavers said: “It’s fantastic the beach has improved but if Halite starts pumping into the sea we are not going to improve next year or the year after.

“My concern is what’s going to be destroyed in conservation areas when all the brine is pumped into the sea.”

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said discharging brine into the sea was a common practice when creating underground gas storage facilities.

He added: “The Environment Agency has already granted a consent to discharge the brine that would be generated by the project into the sea approximately 2.3 kilometres offshore.

“Specialist consultants have undertaken a detailed assessment of the impact the collecting and disposal of brine would have on the local marine environment and it has been deemed by the Environment Agency that the impact will be minimal.

“The brine disposal process will be carefully monitored by the Environment Agency.

“Halite is committed to minimising the environmental impact of every aspect of its project, including the brine discharge.

“As a result we do not believe that the brine discharge process will have any detrimental effect on next year’s Marine Conservation Society test.”

Previous gas storage applications by American firm Canatxx were refused on safety and environmental impact grounds.

Thousands of local residents and the area’s MPs also object.

The Government is currently considering whether to approve Halite’s plans. Its decision is expected later this month.

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