Fresh twist in Lancashire gas storage row as Government abandons appeal

Storage area: The proposed site in Preesall and, below, Keith Budinger
Storage area: The proposed site in Preesall and, below, Keith Budinger
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The on-off saga over plans to store gas underground in Lancashire was resurrected again today when the Government withdrew its appeal against a key decision.

Halite Energy had been refused planning permission for the underground site at Preesall in a long-running battle with council planners and residents.

Keith Budinger

Keith Budinger

But the High Court ruled that Energy Secretary Edward Davey was wrong when he refused to allow consent for the project in April last year.

That meant the plan to store 600 million cubic metres of natural gas would have to be reconsidered.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change had appealed aginst the High Court ruling.

But now it has dropped its appeal – meaning there are no barriers to the plan being resubmitted.

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“Although DECC did lodge an appeal they have now withdrawn it.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.”

The DECC had rejected the application last April, on the grounds it “failed to demonstrate the suitability of the site’s geology”. Mrs Justice Patterson ruled that it had not been fairly treated.

Preston North and Wyre Conservative MP Ben Wallace said recently: “Halite/Canatxx has never proved gas storage under Wyre will be safe.”