We realise that the local community has a number of questions, concerns and views in relation to our project.
Here are some of the key questions that have been raised with our responses.
You said: Many of the caverns that were mined for brine in Preesall have collapsed, and so are totally unsafe for gas storage.
Our response: Halite will not be using any old workings. The process of creating purpose built caverns will ensure the caverns are structurally sound. Modern purpose built caverns do not collapse. Design and construction of caverns must comply with the strict guidelines set by the Health & Safety Executive.
You said: There is too much risk for the population within a few yards/miles of the proposed gas storage.
Our response: Safety is paramount to Halite. As part of our proposals we undertook a Risk Assessment which highlighted that risk of fatality from the Project is less than one in 100 million per year. It also highlighted that there is no risk of gas leaking from the caverns to outlying villages.
You said: This Project is a disaster waiting to happen. It is bound to result in an explosion.
Our response: Safety is paramount to Halite and has been given the highest priority in preparing our proposals. We have carried out a Quantitative Risk Assessment which looks at foreseeable major risks posed by the Project. This concludes that the risk of fatality to the public is less than one in 100 million per year.
The UK guidelines around the construction of projects of this nature are stringent and every aspect of the construction and operation of our Project will comply with Health & Safety Executive guidance and the Control of Major Hazards (COMAH) regulations.
You said: There is no need for Project like this.
Our response: The UK is now a major importer of gas. There is a growing need for flexibility in our natural gas supplies, particularly in cold snaps such as those experienced in recent winters which put pressure on supply in periods of peak demand.
In addition, gas will play a crucial role as the UK increases its dependency on renewable energy as wind and solar energy are intermittent and unreliable.
The recent announcement of the closure of Centrica’s Rough facility, which accounts for 70% of the UK’s domestic gas storage, further increases the need for the Preesall project.
The need for nationally significant projects of the kind Halite is proposing at Preesall is recognised by the government in its designated National Policy Statement.
You said: The area in which you are proposing caverns is littered with faults and cannot possibly be safe to store gas.
Our response: We have conducted extensive studies to identify two areas which are suitable for gas storage and far away from any known hazards such as faulting and old mine workings. This work has been verified by one of the leading European experts in salt mechanics, Professor R.B. Rokahr, who has stated: “On the strength of my 30 years’ experience in salt mechanics and salt cavern construction, I can confirm that stable gas-tight salt caverns can be constructed in the Preesall salt formation for the storage of natural gas.”
You said: Gas will escape from the caverns and will result in an explosion in Fleetwood.
Our response: Halite has carried out extensive studies of the salt body using the latest technology to confirm it is gas tight. Leading salt mechanics expert, Professor R.B Rokahr has stated: “The laboratory tests conducted to date on rock samples from the Preesall salt formation and the additional tests in two boreholes, show without any doubt that the salt rock is adequately strong and that the Preesall salt formation can be classified as gas tight.”
You said: Recent earthquakes are proof that the ground in Preesall is unsafe for gas storage.
Our response: The Preesall salt body is in an area of low seismic activity. Minor earthquakes would have no effect on the caverns. However, as with any major development, the design will incorporate best practice to ensure the safety of the caverns in the event of future earthquakes.
You said: Wildlife will be destroyed to build this Project.
Our response: There will be minimal disruption to wildlife during and after construction. In order to minimise the effects of the Project on the number of important habitats and species in the area, we have prepared an Ecological and Landscape Management Plan. This was prepared in consultation with national bodies such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
You said: The development will damage the Wyre Way.
Our response: There will be a temporary disruption during part of the construction phase, but Halite is committed to being a long term steward of the land and we are looking at ways in which to enhance the landscape across our development area, including the Wyre Way.
You said: A development of this size would cause disruption on local roads.
Our response: We have put together a detailed travel plan which takes into account issues around noise, pollution and traffic volume.
It sets out how we will minimise local disruption by avoiding construction traffic during rush hours and the school run. Our HGV routing strategy seeks to avoid areas of highest pedestrian and cycling activity and existing settlements where possible.
You said: Massive amounts of gas will be stored under homes in Fleetwood.
Our response: There are no caverns underneath Fleetwood. The cavern development area is confined to Halite’s land holding in Preesall.
You said: The brine discharge will destroy sea life in the sea at Fleetwood.
Our response: Discharging brine waste water into the sea is a common, world-wide practice. The Environment Agency has granted consent to discharge the brine that will be generated into the Irish Sea. We will carefully follow the required guidelines and regulations in order to minimise the impact of this activity. Sites at Morecambe Bay and the Wyre Estuary, which are protected at European and national levels because of their valued wildlife habitats, will not be affected.
You said: The pipeline will be ugly and will destroy the landscape over the River Wyre.
Our response: All the pipelines will be buried underground and will not be seen once completed.
You said: The route of the pipeline goes through extensive areas of peat. This means the pipeline could collapse.
Our response: Pipelines run through peat in many areas across the UK. Our pipelines will be constructed to industry standards, taking into account the ground conditions and there will be no risk of the pipelines collapsing.
You said: The development will result in a huge fall in property prices.
Our response: The experience of other developments, such as Hornsea, North Yorkshire, where there has been an underground gas storage project for 30 years and is similar in surroundings to Preesall, Stalmine and Knott End, would indicate no long-term impact on property prices.