Chamber support for gas plan sparks Wyre residents anger

The area of Wyre where Halite wants to store gas.
The area of Wyre where Halite wants to store gas.

Wyre residents have hit out at a business organisation’s decision to support a controversial plan to store gas underground.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the Government decision to grant consent for Halite’s underground gas storage project at Preesall.

Keith Budinger

Keith Budinger

It said it represents a much-needed £600m injection of private sector investment into the local economy.

It also said that with the construction phase likely to span eight years, there would be employment opportunities for local people.

But residents who campaigned against the plans to store gas in salt caverns under Wyre said they were “disgusted” with the organisation’s support.

Ian Mulroy, of the Protect Wyre Group, said: “Few of these companies supporting this are from our area. There will be little benefit to the residents and to local companies as those who hope to procure work from Halite, should this scheme ever come to fruition, appear to be scattered widespread around Lancashire and beyond.

Few of these companies supporting this are from our area

Ian Mulroy

“The Chamber’s backing of the scheme might be a little premature when you consider that there are already at least six other schemes in the UK that have been awarded planning consent and they, after many years and being in ‘better’ salt, still await funding and finance.

“The Preesall salt field is one of the last to be targeted by developers perhaps because it is so marginal. The government’s own consultants, Senergy, has said that there is a less than two per cent chance of Halite achieving their quoted volumes.”

Fleetwood town councillor Simon Roberts said: “I am disgusted at the Chamber’s support for this scheme. It show little regard for the views of 60,000 people who objected and their fears over health and safety.

“The amount of jobs created will be negligible and have no impact on local employment.”

Ian Mulroy

Ian Mulroy

Stalmine farmer June Jackson said: “They talk about having support from 129 letters but there were 11,000 against. Few of these companies supporting Halite are from the local area.

“It will not help local employment, our forte is tourism and it has already had a detrimental effect on that.”

But Babs Murphy, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “Gas storage represents a huge economic opportunity for Lancashire firms, both in terms of winning new business and also creating jobs and market opportunities.

“Not only will it create hundreds of high value new jobs, it will make a marked change for employment and economic stability.”

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “We have made it our priority to ensure that as much of the investment as possible is made in Lancashire through local procurement and recruitment, drawing upon the skills and products of contractors in our supply chain and providing job opportunities for local people.

“Our project will see the creation of a significant number of direct and indirect jobs during construction and we are committed to ensuring that as many jobs as possible go to local people.”