Nature reserve may halt Halite gas storage plans, says MP

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard
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Controversial plans to store gas in salt caverns under Wyre may hit choppy waters, a Fylde coast MP has said.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard is hoping proposals to dump millions of tonnes of brine into the sea off Rossall will be rejected as a result of the expansion of a wildlife protection zone.

Natural England has confirmed the proposals by Halite will be subject to fresh assessments following the Government’s decision to increase the size of the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area.

Halite wants to excavate caverns in the salt beneath the Preesall area to act as a store for natural gas which can then be fed into the national grid. The excavation would be done using high pressure water and the waste pumped out at sea off the Fylde coast.

Local fishermen fear the high concentrations of salt in the water will harm the marine environment.

The extension brings a requirement for authorities such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Inshore Fishing Conservation Authority and the Environment Agency to revisit permissions given but not yet complete.

This means for the Halite proposal a fresh assessment will have to take place to ensure there will not be a permanent impact on protected birds.

Mr Maynard said: “This should not simply be a rubber-stamping of the previous permission. It is important the impact of this project on our marine environment is properly understood.

"I cannot see how the dumping of brine in the quantities Halite is suggesting will not have significant impact on this delicate and important habitat.”

Halite chief executive Keith Budinger said: “Halite Energy has a Development Consent Order granted in 2015 which includes permission for the disposal of the brine generated into the Irish Sea at Rossall.

"Halite will continue to work with the relevant regulatory authorities, to ensure we monitor and meet the stringent requirements of the brine discharge consent.”