Business chiefs back controversial gas cavern plan

Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant
Preesall site where Halite - formally Canatxx - plan to build the gas storage plant
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A Lancashire business organisation has voiced its support for Halite’s underground gas storage project at Preesall.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce welcomed the decision to grant consent for the project, which will see 900 million cubic metres of gas stored in salt caverns under the River Wyre.

It will have a dramatic impact on the local economy and communities

Babs Murphy, chief executive NWLCC

The contentious scheme had been rejected by town, borough and county councils and the Government, but won approval after a third appeal earlier this year.

Halite says the project represents a £600m injection of private sector investment into the UK and local economy.

And Babs Murphy, chief executive of the NWLCC, said: “Gas storage represents a huge economic opportunity for Lancashire firms, by winning new business and creating jobs and market opportunities.

“This major investment will revitalise the Fylde coast, delivering lasting economic change. It will have a dramatic impact on the local economy and communities.”

However, Derek Eaton, chairman of Fleetwood Chamber of Trade, said: “I am surprised and disappointed by these comments.

“The Halite development is more than just a business scheme, it carries a potential environmental impact for local communities. Most people in Fleetwood and Wyre see it as a big concern, not an opportunity.”

Halite contends that with the construction and commissioning phase spanning eight years, there will be extensive job creation in design, development and building.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “We thank the Chamber for their support. Our priority is to ensure that as much investment as possible is made in Lancashire through local recruitment, providing job chances for local people.”

Halite hailed 129 letters of support from the two Chambers of Commerce in Lancashire, the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors and local businesses.

But opposition came from local MPs,Lancashire and Wyre councils and thousands of Wyre residents.

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