Council opposes plan for gas storage caves

Michael Green
Michael Green
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Lancashire County Council has formally objected to plans to store natural gas in caves beneath Preesall.

Halite Energy Group’s proposals would be expected to pump £600m into the local economy over an eight-year construction programme that would also create 510 new jobs in the area.

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant / view gas storage Over Wyre

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant / view gas storage Over Wyre

But the county council, as one of the statutory authorities being consulted by the national Planning Inspectorate, which has to decide whether to approve the plans, has submitted a report stating its opposition to the scheme.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “We have concluded that the detrimental impact this scheme would have on the rural and coastal areas included in the plan far outweighs the intended benefits. 

The scale and design of the proposals does not, in our view, sufficiently protect the landscape or natural environment for future generations.”

Kirkham-based Halite, which was unavailable for comment yesterday, wants to build 19 underground caverns, which would store 900m cubic metres of natural gas linked to the National Grid station at Nateby, near Garstang.

Its proposals have been backed by the Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

However, the county council report also called on the Planning Inspectorate to seek assurances about the safety of the proposed development.

Coun Green said: “It is not for us to judge whether the proposed operations are safe but we are urging the Planning Inspectorate to seek robust evidence that these proposals would prevent the escape of gas from the caverns and avoid causing seismic movement.

“We are also asking them to seek assurances that nearby residents and people visiting the area near the caverns wouldn’t be placed at risk by operations at the site.”

A decision is expected to be made on the plans next year..