Judicial review for gas storage plans

Land near Preesall where Halite want to store gas. Below: Howard Phillips and (bottom) Keith Budinger.

Land near Preesall where Halite want to store gas. Below: Howard Phillips and (bottom) Keith Budinger.

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Campaigners against controversial gas storage plans claim ‘their agony is being prolonged’ after the firm behind the scheme was granted permission to proceed with a judicial review.

Halite Energy wants to store 900 million cubic metres of natural gas in 19 salt caverns under the River Wyre.

Howard Phillips

Howard Phillips

Their proposals were rejected in April by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the Planning Inspectorate suggesting they could only be approved if the suitability of the area could be proven.

The firm, which replaced American company Canatxx, has received permission from the High Court to go forward with a judicial review, which will challenge the decision to turn down planning consent.

The process will not overturn the Government’s decision but it could be quashed and DECC would have to consider the plans again.

DECC rejected Halite’s plans due to insufficient geological data but the firm claimed the decision was “flawed”.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite

Those fighting the plans for more than a decade today reacted with disappointment.

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, said: “It seems ridiculous we have to go through this so many times when the residents have made their views known.

“It’s like they are trying to wear people down so in the end they won’t get the objections, but the resolve of the residents in Wyre has not diminished and if they start the process again residents should show what they feel about it even stronger.”

Howard Phillips, vice chairman of Protect Wyre Group, added: “It is prolonging the agony for people who have been fighting this for such a long time.”

Coun Paul Moon, Preesall councillor for Wyre Council, said: “I’m rather disappointed.

“My belief is the ground isn’t suitable to store gas and I don’t think the geology is right for that process.”

Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw said he is furious the firm was getting another chance at pushing through its scheme – despite three previous rejections. He added: “I am obviously deeply unhappy that once again we are faced with further months of uncertainty over the issue of Halite and their plans to store gas under the River Wyre.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “Yesterday Halite was granted permission in the High Court to proceed with the judicial review.

“As this matter remains the subject of legal proceedings Halite does not intend to comment any further.”

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