Huge deposits of brine set to be offloaded into the sea off Fleetwood every day could spell disaster for fish and marine life, anglers and campaigners have warned.
Halite Energy’s scheme to store gas in salt caverns under the River Wyre has already been given the green light by the Government and initial construction work is due to start early next year.
But members of the campaign group, No Gas Storage, are concerned about a raft of issues.
And one of their chief concerns – the possibility of lethal saline toxicity in Morcambe Bay, is shared by worried anglers who fear marine life will be destroyed.
Part of the process of the gas storage will see water pumped into the salt seams at high pressure to force out the salt, with gas being pumped into the space left.
But worryingly for campaigners, the salt-rich brine would then be pumped through a pipe and out into the sea, just over a mile off Rossall.
The firm plans to release 80,000 cublic metres of brine a day into the Bay or 926 litres a second.
This week No Gas Storage has launched a petition to tackle these concerns.
Ian Dawson, from Cleveleys, and a member of Blackpool Yacht Club, said: “At this time of year we catch cod coming inshore as it gets colder. There is an amazing amount of life in the sea off our coast.
“The water is pretty clean despite it looking brownish as can be seen because we have blue flag beaches, dolphins and seals.
“If they pump out the brine it will devastate the wildlife. All the angling clubs are talking about it now.”
David Hehir, from Wyre Boat Anglers Club, said: “We know from experience if the rain is bad then the fishing is bad due to change in the salinity. If they put more salt in it will kill the fish or drive them away.”
A meeting was held at St Nicholas church hall in Fleetwood on Friday night to discus the concerns.
Claire Rimmer-Quaid, of campaign group No Gas Storage, said: “Projects that destroy marine life and kill off the food chain should not be allowed to progress.”
What does Halite say?
Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “Modelling undertaken for the application showed that the discharge of the brine would have minimal impact 250 metres from the outfall discharge point.
“The long-term assessment by the Environment Agency is that over a 10-year period, the maximum accumulation of salt would be 0.08 per cent.
“We want to reassure the community that we are committed to minimising the environmental impact of our project and we will continue to work with all statutory bodies to ensure this is the case across the lifetime of the project.”