Fresh setback in Halite gas battle

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MP Eric Ollerenshaw has said he is ready to continue his fight against energy firm Halite after the Government withdrew its appeal against a key legal decision.

Halite Energy had been refused planning permission by the Government for 19 salt caverns beneath the River Wyre at Preesall in a long-running battle with council planners and residents.

But the High Court ruled that Energy Secretary Edward Davey had imposed “too high a threshold” on the company when deciding in April last year to refuse consent for the project.

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 against the High Court ruling.

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

Mr Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “While this decision is a setback, it is not the end of the road. I for one will continue to fight against these proposals and, hopefully, Halite will finally get the message that they are not welcome round here.’

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy said: “Halite can confirm that after the High Court decision in its favour, DECC (the Government department) 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“Although DECC did lodge an appeal they have now withdrawn it.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 High court ruled in January that the company, formerly known as Cantaxx, would be allowed to have its plans looked at again.

The judgment said that too high a threshold had been imposed on the company when it came to assessing the viability of the project and the geological challenges it faced.

A statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it would write now to interested parties setting out the process for re-determination of the application.

June Jackson, an anti gas storage campaigner and Over Wyre resident, said: “We are not going to give up at this late stage. We are going to have to get our thinking caps on and make some representations.

“I know the Government was looking at an appeal, but I think this way of looking at it is a good way because we have the chance to put our thoughts forward again.

This application is the fourth of its kind.

The three previously proposed by Cantaxx were all rejected.




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