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Preesall Gas Storage Plans Halted?

John Freeman

Anti-gas storage campaigner Nic Fogg has revealed Kirkham-based Halite Energy Services is rumoured to be delaying its £660 million pound development in Preesall for up to a year, believed to be because of concerns about the impact of the 19,000 tons of brine that would be pumped into the sea off Rossall.

“I understand there was a meeting where it was revealed that maritime surveys due to be carried out have been delayed as it’s the wrong time of year,” said Mr Fogg, who has campaigned against the gas storage project for more than 10 years.

He also stood as the Labour candidate the Preesall Ward and Wyre Central by-elections, held yesterday, but lost to Conservative Peter Gordon Cartridge despite a 14 per cent rise in Labour votes.

“Nothing has been confirmed by Halite but without the data from these surveys it’s not possible for the development to go ahead," says Fogg.

"I also understand there has been significant concern from maritime agencies and scientists.”

It’s not known if the delay will stop the company pressing ahead with building its access road, which it was due to start in February.

Halite Energy Group's development aims to create up to 19 purpose-built underground gas storage caverns, which it says will significantly increase the UK’s gas storage capacity, aiming to help to avoid gas supply interruptions, price spikes and back up intermittent electricity generated by wind turbines.

The company has not yet commented on the reports.

The No Gas Storage Campaign whose aims are to campaign against the underground gas storage in Preesall and Wyre has, since October, been highlighting the issue of the brine outfall pipe which they reported would create a massive dead zone causing enormous damage to sea life and the environment.

“We hope for early clarification from Halite as to their plans,” said the head of the No Gas Storage Campaign Claire Rimmer Quaid. “We obviously welcome any delay but ultimately the project should be stopped from going ahead.”

Labour MP Cat Smith has also opposed the development from the beginning.

“I hope these rumours are true," she commented. "Any delay will be a blow for both Halite and the Government who chose to approve this development against the wishes of local people.

"I will be demanding Halite and Ministers reveal what is happening at the earliest opportunity.”

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• Halite Energy Group