Gas giant gears up for a new battle

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plans to build a gas storage plant
Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plans to build a gas storage plant

Gas storage firm Halite has reared up for another fight – by making a legal challenge against the Government’s decision to refuse its latest plans.

Halite wanted to store millions of tons of gas in salt caverns under the River Wyre near Fleetwood but on April 9 the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) rejected the scheme due to insufficient geological data.

Halite’s application had been recommended for approval by the Planning Inspectorate, but only on the basis that it provided the required geological information.

With a deadline of just six weeks to decide how to proceed after DECC’s refusal, Halite has now made its decision to mount a challenge.

Halite says that under Section 118 of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State’s decision can be challenged by means of a claim for judicial review in the High Court.

Campaigners had hoped that Halite would finally give up, after previous schemes by predecessor Canatxx were also rejected.

Margaret Daniels, (left), chairman of Fleetwood Civic Society which is part of umbrella group Protect Wyre, told the Weekly News: “It is disappointing news. When will this company ever give up and realise the meaning of the word ‘no’?”

But Howard Phillips, of the Thornton Action Group, said: “Although we hoped that would be the end of it, this judicial review move comes as no surprise.

“It is a rather desperate gamble by Halite.

“Rather than spend time and money collating the geological data they need and putting in another application, they are going for this cheaper, quicker option.

“We are quietly optimistic that they know they cannot put a suitable application together and have had to resort to going down this legal route instead.”

More than 10,000 residents officially objected to the Halite scheme after a campaign by Protect Wyre and others, including 2,000 in Fleetwood.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy said:“Following a review of the Secretary of State’s refusal, and the report submitted by the Planning Inspectorate which recommended approval of Halite’s application, Halite has issued proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision.

“Halite and its legal team believe that there are

substantial grounds on which to demonstrate that the decision is flawed.

“But as the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings do not intend to comment further at this stage”.