Town council to oppose Wyre gas store decision

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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Fleetwood Town Council has unanimously voted to oppose the controversial gas storage plans at Preesall by the Halite company, recently approved by the government despite massive local opposition.

At a meeting this week at the North Euston Hotel, the members voted to write to the Secretary of State and to Prime Minister David Cameron outlining their anger at the Government’s intervention in the local planning process.

In July, Energy Minister Lord Bourne granted planning consent for salt caverns under Preesall to store 900 million cubic litres of gas.

Speaking during the debate, Coun Simon Roberts said: “I believe we need a mass campaign to oppose gas storage, just like the anti-fracking campaign which as a Trade Union and Socialist Coalition town councillor I have been a long-term supporter of.

“The Tory government are advocating the pursuit of profit with no regard to either democracy or the health risk to our community.”

Coun Roberts had organised a protest against gas storage before the council meeting, which drew together members of the public, including Preesall residents together with anti-fracking campaigners and supporters of TUSC.

He welcomed the high turnout of the public to the meeting, and said that energy services should be nationalised. He added: “Furthermore I support renewable energy policies which will provide safe clean energy and create many more badly-needed jobs for our community.”

Chairman of the town council Coun Terry Rogers also spoke at the meeting to outline to new members the historical position the council took prior to May’s election.

He said in the past the council had agreed that if the gas storage bid was successful that they should work with Halite to ensure that local young people should have the chance to work on the project.

Speaking today he said: “The town council voted unanimously to write to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister to oppose the Government’s decision to overturn local democracy. It is nothing personal against Halite, our position has not changed with them, we are blaming central government.”

A Halite spokesman said: “We respect the decision of Fleetwood Town Council.

“The decision to give consent for our project is a boost for the people and businesses of Lancashire and will have significant benefits in terms of local job creation and securing the UK’s energy security.”

Local MP Cat Smith, who was present at the town council meeting, said she was still looking at the slim possibility of challenging the Government’s decision via a judicial revue.

She said: “It is very frustrating, we thought we had won this battle until the Energy Secretary intervened, but I will continue to oppose this. The Government talks about localism, local people making planning decisions but at the same time has completely over ridden the decision that has been made and the views of the local people and councils.

“We have huge potential for energy supply in our areas through wind, solar and wave energy such as the proposed Wyre barrage, but they choose not to support those. It seems it is one rule for gas storage and fracking and another for everything else.”