Brine spill wrecks farmer’s best field

Janet Whitlow by the fields in Preesall where the brinefield incident occured
Janet Whitlow by the fields in Preesall where the brinefield incident occured
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A FARMER has lost his best grazing field after brine flooded his land.

Two roads had to be closed when a well head, operated by Halite Energy, failed and burst open in Preesall on Saturday.

A clean-up operation is underway, but local farmers have been advised not to use their fields until further information has been gathered.

Arthur Whitlow, of Park Cottage Farm on Cemetery Lane said he has lost 10 acres of land.

He said: “I have had a letter of apology from Halite, but I don’t think I am going to be able to use the field again.

“Brine from the spillage will kill the grass and there is a huge hole where the well burst open as the land has now caved in.

“It is my best grazing field, only a stone’s throw from the house so the loss will come at a cost.

“Halite are cleaning up, with the Environment Agency and Wyre Council, but I will have to wait and see the full extent of the damage.”

Mr Whitlow’s wife Janet said the couple were at a wedding when the incident happened.

She said: “We received a phone call but there was no way we could leave our daughter’s wedding.

“I don’t think there was much we could have done anyway.”

Halite, formerly known as Canatxx, is developing plans to create up to 19 purpose built caverns in the salt field at Preesall for the storage of up to 900 million cubic metres of natural gas.

But campaigners say the accident fuels their claims the exploratory procedures are environmentally unsafe.

Leader of Wyre council Peter Gibson said he hopes Halite will get the message.

He said: “This just proves it doesn’t matter how many computer models you produce, you cannot predict science. I hope this is noted and I hope Halite think again about these proposals.”

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite, said a full review will be carried out.

He said: “Halite is committed to being a good steward of the land in our ownership and we take this responsibility very seriously.

“Once again I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the disruption caused and assure the local community that we are doing everything to minimise the impact of the incident.”

“We will ensure we review our ongoing maintenance programme.