The firm behind plans for a huge underground gas storage scheme has moved to reassure residents it will not be compulsorily purchasing any homes.
Halite Energy which has applied to carve out 19 caverns in the salt strata beneath Preesall to store 900 million cubic metres of natural gas, said today confusion has occurred over a certificate issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The certificate which would allow the acquisition of a small area of land is part of the procedural process for the bid and Halite was obliged to apply for it, but it relates only to areas of open land with no houses.
The company, which plans to build an underground pipeline from the cavern site to the sea to dig out the salt using high pressure water, said the granting of the certificate did not mean the storage application would necessarily get the go-ahead from the planning inspectorate.
A spokesman said today: “Halite recognises that its proposals for an underground gas storage at Preesall continue to attract a lot of public interest and that the views of the community remain polarised.
“However, in this instance Halite has simply endeavoured to follow guidelines laid down by the Planning Inspectorate.
“A development consent order (DCO) cannot be made by the Secretary of State without this certificate and the planning guidance requires developers to apply for it before they make the DCO application.”
The ruling on the development consent order is not expected until April.
The company answered concerns from residents voiced in The Gazette who believed they may lose their homes.
Patricia Harrison of South Strand said: “I will not let them knock my house down.”
Neighbour Neville Mawdesley, 84, said: “It was suggested that this might happen but there’s no way I would move.”
However, the Halite spokesman said: “Halite is not, and never has been, applying to compulsorily purchase any homes or gardens to accommodate the brine pipeline at Fleetwood.
“The proposed pipeline will run along the back of the properties on South Strand, but work will not encroach on their land.
Halite said construction of the 36in pipeline would take seven months and afterwards there would be no disturbance to residents.