Council close-up in salt cavern bid

Halite chairman, Dr. John Roberts (right) and chief executive, Keith Budinger.
Halite chairman, Dr. John Roberts (right) and chief executive, Keith Budinger.
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PLANS to build an underground gas storage facility under the Fylde coast will come under scrutiny at a meeting of Wyre councillors next week.

Members will consider the results of a consultation carried out by Halite, the company behind the plans for the salt caverns under the Preesall countryside.

Six exhibitions showcasing the plans have been carried out across Wyre since May and the council’s planning committee – which has rejected similar plans, originally submitted by Canatxx, three times – will now review the results.

Halite will then submit its findings to the Infrastructure Planning Commission – a new Government body which looks at planning applications which have national significance.

A Wyre Council spokesman said: “The purpose of this consultation is not to make a recommendation in respect of whether the application should be granted or refused.

“It is to respond to the developer setting out the council’s views on matters that are of concern which the council wishes the developer to address prior to the formal submission of the proposal to the IPC after which the application cannot be amended.”

The controversial scheme, which was turned down most recently in January last year, suffered a setback when a well head, operated by Halite, burst open spilling brine across a farmer’s field.

Police are now investigating claims the well head had been sabotaged prior to the incident which occurred in June.

But the company, which claim residents are five times more likely to be hit by lightning than experience a gas explosion in Wyre, remain confident their plans will succeed and say they are working hard to get to the bottom of the latest incident.

Dr John Roberts CBE, chairman of Halite Energy: told The Gazette: “Safety and security are paramount to Halite in all our operations.

“We will continue to work closely with all relevant agencies and the local community to ensure this incident is resolved as soon as possible.”

“But our detailed technical assessment has concluded that the cavern at brine well 45 is stable and the cavern roof and cavern floor are still intact and unchanged, removing concerns around any future cavern collapse or ground subsidence in the adjacent area.”