Halite plan to come again as appeal axed

Storage area: The proposed site in Preesall and, below, Keith Budinger
Storage area: The proposed site in Preesall and, below, Keith Budinger

An energy firm behind a long-running bid to store gas in fields underneath the Wyre countryside WILL have its plans re-considered - after the Government decided to pull out of an appeal.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has 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 plans to carve out 19 salt caverns beneath the River Wyre at 

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

A judgement 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.

The Government had considered appealing the decision, but have today announced they will not be continuing with that process.

A statement from DECC said: “Having given due consideration to the benefits of continuing its appeal against the judgment of the High Court in respect of Halite Energy Group Limited’s application for a proposed underground gas storage facility at Preesall, Lancashire, 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 accordance with The Infrastructure Planning (Examination Procedure) Rules 2010 in due course.”

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “Halite can confirm that after the High Court decision in its favour, DECC were 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“Although DECC did lodge an appeal they have now withdrawn it.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 that DECC’s refusal of Halite’s application for a development consent order is quashed and falls to be redetermined by DECC. “DECC is still considering the procedure which it will require for the redetermination.

“Halite will cooperate with DECC in following the process to allow for a timely redetermination.”

June Jackson, an anti gas storage campaigner and Over Wyre resident, said: “We are not going to give up at this late stage.

“We are going to have to get our thinking caps on and make some representations.

“I know the Government was looking at an appeal, but I think this way of looking at it is a good way because we have the chance to put our thoughts forward again.

“We are all still quite convinced that you have to have the highest possible level of proof (it is safe).”

This application is the fourth of its kind.

The three previously proposed by Cantaxx were all