Controversial gas storage plans by Halite may have been ultimately refused, but the scheme was not completely dismissed out of hand.
Although the final decision on the scheme was given by the Department of Climate Change (DECC), the Planning Inspectorate which compiled the report actually recommended the scheme could be passed, albeit with provisos.
It demonstrates the perceived national need for gas storage was clearly taken into consideration by the team of inspectors.
Halite’s scheme to store 900 million cubic metres of gas, in salt caverns between Fleetwood and Preesall, was rejected by DECC because the application failed to demonstrate the suitability of the site’s geology for salt cavern storage.
The Inspectorate shared those concerns but, in a cover letter to DECC accompanying its report, stated the plans should be granted if Halite could demonstrate the suitability of the salt was as high as assumed by Halite, and that “development consent be given subject to a major proviso concerning the procurement of more detailed geological data” on the ability of the salt to store large volumes of gas.
It also stated Halite would be required to carry out more comprehensive geological surveys “post-approval”.
Ian Mulroy, chairman of campaign group Protect Wyre, said: “What was a surprise was this guarded recommendation from the Planning Inspectors that the scheme could be allowed to proceed, subject to a major proviso that the salt had a demonstrable ability to store the envisaged volumes of gas.”