Camera row blows up over gas firm’s CCTV

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The company which set up a series of CCTV cameras in an effort to halt saboteurs tampering with potentially dangerous old saltmine workings on Over Wyre farmland has been told to apply for planning permission for the cameras.

Halite Energy, the firm behind the plans to create gas storage pods in the salt strata under the River Wyre estuary recently came under fire from one of its tenant farmers who alleged a lack of consultation over the siting of the cameras. Questions were also raised about the cameras by Stalmine Parish Council.

Last month Halite defended its security move, stressing it had consulted locally about the cameras, and said it had not applied for planning permission to Wyre Council as the cameras were ‘temporary’ and below a height of 2.4 metres.

But following a visit to the area by planning officials the company has now been formally asked to submit a planning application.

A Wyre spokesman confirmed there had been a complaint and that, following the officer’s visit, a planning application had been requested.

Halite Energy has boosted the security of its vast landholding in Stalmine and Preesall since June 2011 when, in an incident at an old brinewell regarded by the company as sabotage, tonnes of salty mud spewed on to a country lane, destroying vegetation, at Preesall.

A second incident in March this year saw kerosene poured into a redundant borehole drilling shaft and set alight.

The clean-up and mitigation of the environmental impact of both incidents cost Halite £1m. When asked about the security boost Halite said: “The new measures we have introduced will supplement our existing security measures which aim to protect our land and the community, also helping to deter anti-social and criminal activity such as fly-tipping or theft from farms.

“Our approach has been welcomed by many local tenant farmers and residents and is supported by the Health and Safety Executive and the police.” Once Halite has submitted a retrospective planning application, Stalmine Parish Council and Preesall Town Council will be given the opportunity to comment before the plans are considered by Wyre Council planners.