Gas storage decision due in New Year

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant  / view gas storage Over Wyre

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant / view gas storage Over Wyre

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A decision is due on whether a controversial bid to store 900 million cubic metres of gas in salt caverns near Fleetwood will get the green light.

Halite Energy Group is waiting for the Government to confirm it can go ahead with plans to store the gas in caverns underneath the River Wyre at Preesall.

Campaigners in Wyre have tried to kill off the gas plans in a decade-long struggle which has seen Halite’s proposals follow three failed attempts by its predecessor, Canatxx.

Protesters thought the proposals had been abandoned when the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused the Halite scheme last year, citing geological and safety concerns.

But in January the energy firm, which says the project will provide up to 300 construction jobs and 45 operational posts, won a decision to force DECC to look again.

Halite has spent much of this year presenting new data to the DECC to persuade the department that those geological concerns have been dealt with.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy said: “During 2014 the DECC has been undertaking a redetermination process, following which it will reach a decision on whether to grant a consent order for our project.

“In accordance with the redetermination procedure, we provided additional information during the process and now await the outcome.”

A London court ruled in January that Halite would be allowed to have its plans looked at again by Energy Secretary Ed Davey, quashing the DECC’s decision not to give planning consent.

The judgment said too high a threshold had been imposed on the company when it came to assessing the viability of the project and geological challenges it faced.

The DECC considered appealing the decision, but in April did a U-turn.

In the last 10 years, campaigners gathered thousands of names for a petition each time the plans were put forward. The group’s own experts also challenged Canatxx’s geological, environmental and safety assertions at each public inquiry.

Fleetwood Civic Society chairman Margaret Daniels, whose group is part of the Protect Wyre campaign, said: “Hopefully, the Government will still raise sufficient concerns to reject it again, and hopefully that will finally be the end of it.”

A DECC spokesman said: “The application is still being looked at.

“There is no statutory time scale for this case and a decision will be announced in due course.”