MPs and community leaders – who have fought alongside campaigners against the gas storage plans – today said the blocking of Halite’s scheme was ‘historic’.
And they said they hope bosses behind the plans would now “get the message” and not come back.
Ben Wallace, Wyre MP, said: “We have waited a very long time for ‘no to mean no’ and this decision by the minister is the right one.
“I have been fighting Halite/Canatxx since standing as a candidate before the 2005 General Election and I’ve always known gas storage at the proposed site had not been proved to be safe.
“I sincerely hope this will bring the question of gas storage in the area to an end and that local residents can once again live without the cloud of gas storage hanging over them!”
Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, added: “It is a testament to the hard work and resilience of the local community – and especially the Protect Wyre Group – who have campaigned against this and other previous gas storage proposals for so long.
“Their insistence the unique local geology and close proximity to a large residential area set this site apart from others has been proven to be correct.”
Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, added: “I hope with the fourth rejection, Halite now gets the message and disappear, leaving the people of Wyre alone.”
The DECC said developers were required to prepare detailed geological assessments for underground gas storage proposals.
However, this requirement was not met for the Preesall proposal, leaving significant uncertainty about the scale of the development and attendant benefits and local impacts.
Campaigners who have battled against the plans had outlined 10 major concerns around the project.
Chief among them was the unstable geology of the Preesall salt. The Protect Wyre group said the underground storage would have been just 300m, making it the shallowest in the Europe.
They were also concerned about gas migration to nearby towns and villages and even the potential for a well head explosion.
Coun Debbie Anderson, a Stalmine Parish Councillor, called yesterday’s result ‘historic’. She added: “It’s a great relief to the vast majority of the people on the Fylde coast and especially to the people of Staynall and Stalmine that this unsuitable application has been rejected.
“May I say a huge thank you to all the people who have contributed to this historic victory for common sense over irresponsible greed.”
Coun Gordon McCann represents Preesall on Wyre Council and has called for any appeals from Halite to be rejected.
He said: “For the people of Preesall, Fleetwood, Thornton and the whole area it’s certainly very good news.
“It’s good news as far as the ecological structure of Morecambe Bay is concerned too.
“Common sense has prevailed with this one. Usually everything is appealable but it’s been refused at every level so far – no should mean no.”
Preesall town councillors have also given their reaction.
Coun Robert Drobny said: “It’s cost millions of pounds for this and quite frankly the population of Over Wyre feel like they’ve had so much pressure put upon them, it’s been quite stressful.
“We can get back to a normal life now, I’m overjoyed.”
Garry Payne, chief executive of Wyre Council, added: “While the Secretary of State has refused permission on the grounds of inadequate geological information and capacity of the scheme, the proposal to develop an underground gas storage facility in Preesall would have resulted in significant and extensive industrial development in the open countryside.
“The council considers the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse permission to be the right one.”
‘Extremely disappointed’ with decision, says Halite
THE company behind the plans has spoken out following the announcement.
Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite, expressed his disappointment at the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s decision after the plans were rejected.
He said: “We are extremely disappointed by this decision.
“Halite and its team of consultants have worked strenuously over the past three years, during which our application has been scrutinised through a rigorous planning process.
“We will now need time to examine the reasons behind the turn down carefully before deciding on our next steps.
“I would like to thank all those organisations that we have worked with during this process: the Planning Inspectorate, statutory consultees and the local community.”