During our consultation in 2011, we listened carefully to your questions about our plans.
Here are some of the key questions you asked us, our responses, and how we have changed our plans as a result of your feedback.
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 and Safety Executive.
Our response: We have already introduced 24-hour security on the site and surrounding areas. We have also incorporated surveillance equipment such as infra-red cameras into site plans.
Safety is paramount to Halite. We have undertaken a Risk Assessment which highlights that risk of fatality from the Project is less than one in 100 million per year. It also highlights that there is no risk of gas leaking from the caverns to outlying villages.
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 proposed 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 constriction and operation of our Project would comply with Health and Safety Executive guidance and the Control of Major Hazards (COMAH) regulations.
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 proposed facility at Preesall would increase the UK’s storage capacity by 20 percent – an additional three days’ storage.
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.
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.”
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.”
Our response: The Preesall salt body is in an area of low seismic activity. The recent minor earthquake 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.
Our response: Inevitably, the geology involves technical detail. The primary objective is to demonstrate the principles of the scheme to the technical specialists who represent the planning authorities and regulators who will expect to see a technical explanation. Halite has prepared non-technical summaries which explain the principal issues in non-technical terms.
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 would prepare an Ecological and Landscape Management Plan. This would be prepared in consultation with national bodies such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
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.
Our response: Following feedback during the consultation process, we have added an emergency access route into the site from the north.
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 would minimise local disruption by avoiding construction traffic during rush hours and the school run. Our HGV routing strategy would seek 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.
Our response: Discharging brine waste water into the sea is a common, world-wide practice. The Environment Agency has already 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.
Our response: All the pipelines will be buried underground and will not be seen once completed.
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.
Our response: The construction of the Project will provide 200-300 jobs and there will be an economic benefit from this in the local area. Up to 45 jobs will be created once the facility is operational.
As well as restoring the environment, we also want to actively benefit and improve the natural surroundings, employment opportunities and community facilities.
We are in the process of putting together a number of suggestions around how we can invest in the community and would like your views.
We will keep you informed of when our plans around community investment are available. In the meantime, you can give us your views on how we can be a good neighbour by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01772 672244.
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.
Our response: This is not the case. Halite Energy has a new management team and a new approach. Halite has appointed Dr John Roberts CBE as chairman and Keith Budinger as Chief Executive. Both have extensive experience in the energy sector, including British Gas and United Utilities. Halite’s open and listening approach has been recognised during the consultation period.
Our response: While it is still an underground gas storage project, we have reviewed feedback from previous applications and made major changes to our proposals. The location of the above ground infrastructure has been changed significantly. Crucially, the current proposal is approximately 50 percent of the size of previous proposals, with 19 caverns as opposed to 38 previously.