Letters - August 5, 2015

Halite chairman, John Roberts (right) and chief executive, Keith Budinger
Halite chairman, John Roberts (right) and chief executive, Keith Budinger
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GAS STORAGE

This is not the same project as before

I am writing in response to recent coverage of the Government’s decision to grant consent for Halite’s underground gas storage project at Preesall.

I would like to take this opportunity to address those concerns, and to correct some of the inaccuracies about the project.

Firstly, I must stress this is not the same scheme as the Canatxx proposal that was previously rejected. The current scheme is a result of four years’ in-depth work by Halite, resulting in a project that is smaller in scale, more geologically viable and even more rigorously examined as a result of the new statutory processes under the Planning Act 2008.

With regards to safety, it is important to stress that the Planning Inspectorate, the Health & Safety Executive and the Secretary of State have all confirmed they are satisfied with the safety of the project. The UK has a flawless track record when it comes to storing gas safely in salt caverns, with zero incidents since the first facility was built at Hornsea, Yorkshire in 1979.

Contrary to what some of our opponents might claim, the gas will be stored in purpose-built, brand new caverns, and none of the existing caverns that were created by ICI will be used. The Health & Safety Executive will also insist on signing off every single cavern before it can store gas to ensure maximum safety.

While we understand there is opposition, we would also like to reiterate that there has been a groundswell of support from the two Chambers of Commerce in Lancashire, the CBI, IoD and many local businesses. In fact, 129 letters of support were submitted during the planning process.

The Government has recognised that there is a national need for investment in new gas storage facilities like the one that will be built at Preesall, which is critical for securing the UK’s future energy supply and keeping costs down. With only around 14 days of gas storage, compared to 59 in Italy and 87 in France, the UK is at risk of running out during the harsh winters we experience. Our project will add 20 per cent to the UK’s gas storage capacity, and help to reduce reliance on importation of gas.

It is not just the UK as a whole that is set to benefit from our project, but also the local residents, environment and economy. We have made it our priority to ensure as much of the investment as possible is made in Lancashire through local procurement and recruitment, drawing on the skills and products of contractors, and providing job opportunities for local people. We have also worked with statutory consultees such as the Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Natural England to improve natural habitats, nurture native species and encourage diversity, enhancing wildlife, conservation and land stewardship.

As the project develops from consent to construction, Halite remains committed to listening to the views of the community and we will continue to keep them informed throughout.

In light of the above, I hope some of our opponents reading this will take the opportunity to reassess their views of the project so that we can work together to make real, long lasting improvements in line with the needs of the local area.

Keith Budinger

Chief executive

Halite Energy Group

FRACKING

There’s no such thing as ‘temporary’ wells

I read with interest the statement by Francis Egan in support of his taking his fracking applications to appeal.

Much of it was “the same old, same old”. In particular he persists in describing the applications as “temporary”. Technically, this may be correct.

However, technically, the last ice age was also “temporary”, but tell that to the woolly mammoths!

We all know that, if he gets his way, his allegedly temporary wells will go on for years and years, will be the first of many and there will be little to stop him asking for additional applications.

This is sophistry of the worst kind. In the beginning, many people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but hopefully we are all a bit older and wiser now.

Barry Warner

Roseacre Road

Roseacre

CULTURE

Thanks to all who made fest a success

I would just like to thank all of the people who attended the Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival last weekend at The Winter Gardens.

It took eight months of planning to put together, and proved to be a great success. Over the two-day free event we raised a bucket collection of £2,409.23, plus a further £1,793.72 collected from my ‘Galleonairs’ band events held in St John’s Square since April this year. These proceeds have been donated to Trinity Hospice.

To make it happen on a shoestring budget, I have been fortunate to receive support from a range of musicians, singers, sound and light experts, printers, and security personnel.

The positive support I received from The Winter Gardens has been welcomed. Furthermore all their staff did a sterling job accommodating this grand event at the 11th hour. The team work from all involved has been the secret to the festival success.

Working in tandem with local businesses and the council by offering reduced price parking for this event proved a positive step forward.

I’m confident Blackpool’s Jazz and Blues festival has the capacity to grow year on year. Developing Blackpool’s year-round economy and attracting arts and culture is a positive boost for everyone.

Stephen Pierre

via email