Fleetwood protesters vow to fight Halite once more

The Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - hopes to build a gas storage facility
The Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - hopes to build a gas storage facility

Fleetwood campaigners have vowed to revive the fight against controversial gas storage plans.

It comes after news that proposals to store gas in salt caverns on the edge of the town are to be considered again, after the Government pulled out of an appeal.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) decided not to appeal the decision of a High Court Judicial Review which, earlier this year, quashed the Secretary of State’s decision to throw out Halite Energy Group’s gas plans.

From a base at Preesall, Halite plans to carve out 19 salt caverns beneath the River Wyre, halfway to Fleetwood.

The London court ruled in January that Halite, formerly known as Canatxx, would be allowed to have its plans looked at again by Energy 
Secretary Ed Davey.

A judgment said too high a threshold had been imposed on the company when it came to assessing the viability of the project and geological challenges it faced.

DECC had considered 
appealing the decision, but will not now be doing so.

Fleetwood Civic Society chairman Margaret Daniels, whose group is part of the Protect Wyre campaign, said: “Although it is disappointing Halite will not go away, we will be ready to fight again.”

And Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw added: “While this decision is a setback, it is not the end of the road. I for one will continue to fight against these proposals and, hopefully, Halite will finally get the message they are not welcome round here.”

A DECC statement said: “Having given due consideration to the benefits of continuing its appeal against the judgment of the High Court in respect of the Halite gas storage application at Preesall, the department decided to withdraw the appeal.

“The original decision not to grant development consent has therefore been quashed and the Secretary of State will now have to re-determine the application. We will write to interested parties setting out the process for re-determination in due course.”

Keith Budinger, chief 
executive of Halite Energy, said: “Halite can confirm that, after the High Court decision in its favour, DECC was given permission to appeal the judgment of Mrs Justice Patterson. Although DECC did lodge an appeal, they have now withdrawn it.

“The decision of Mrs Justice Patterson therefore stands, meaning DECC’s 
refusal of Halite’s application is quashed and falls to be 
redetermined by DECC.”

The application is the fourth of its kind – three 
proposed by Cantaxx were rejected.