Wyre golf club rejects gas storage firm offer

An aerial view of Knott End Golf Club
An aerial view of Knott End Golf Club
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A golf club has rejected a lucrative offer from energy firm Halite over land needed for its gas storage plans.

Knott End Golf Club directors snubbed the bid by the firm to buy some of its land after an open forum was held for members to have their say.

Keith Budinger, chief executive at Halite Energy

Keith Budinger, chief executive at Halite Energy

The club said the decision came in the light of 10,000 names on a petition against Halite’s long-standing plans to store 900 million cubic metres of gas in salt caverns beneath the Wyre countryside.

The Government is due to rule on the bid – a decision which had been put off until after the General Election.

But Mike Bradshaw, chairman and spokesman for the board of directors at the club, said: “Knott End Golf Club is an integral part of the local community and we are passionate about protecting our local environment.

“While the offer from Halite, on the face of it, would have provided a boost to the club in the short term, in our opinion it pales into insignificance when compared to the impact that gas storage will have on the local community, wild life and environment.

Our members felt that it was our duty to stand by our neighbours

“It is for these reasons that we and our members felt that it was our duty to standby our neighbours and do the right thing to protect our unique ecological surroundings.”

It is not known how much Halite offered for the land, or exactly how the firm wanted to use it.

Mr Bradshaw said the club recognised that some 10,000 people had already signed a petition opposing the use of the underground salt caverns at Preesall for storage of gas.

Campaigners are opposed to the plans on the grounds of safety to the local community and impact storage would have on the natural wild life and ecology of the area.

In addition, the club’s directors said they felt the offer from Halite to acquire land and rights of access to other parts of the course “placed the future viability of Knott End Golf Club at risk, potentially resulting in the closure of one of the area’s major assets.”

Last week The Gazette reported how campaigners have called for clarity on who would be making the decision on Halite’s appeal against the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) decision to refuse the plans in 2013.

It came after revelations that newly-appointed Secretary of State, Amber Rudd’s brother, Roland Rudd, was head of lobbying company Finsbury which represents Halite.

However, the DECC now says that decision is no longer part of Ms Rudd’s brief.

Keith Budinger, chief executive at Halite Energy, said: “We have worked hard to build a good working relationship with Knott End Golf Club so it is disappointing that they have decided to reject our offer.

“Halite will now await the decision relating to the redetermination of its DCO.”

Halite plans are due to be decided

Halite Energy Group is waiting for the Government to confirm it can go ahead with plans to store the gas in caverns underneath the River Wyre at Preesall.

The decision will come this year.

Campaigners in Wyre have tried to kill off the gas plans in a decade-long struggle which has seen Halite’s proposals follow three failed attempts by its predecessor, Canatxx. Protesters thought the proposals had been abandoned when the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused the Halite scheme in 2013, citing geological and safety concerns.

But in January last year the energy firm won a decision to force DECC to look at the firm’s project again.

Halite has spent much of this year presenting new data to the DECC to persuade the department that those geological concerns have been dealt with.