Commenting on the decision to refuse consent for the underground gas storage facility at Preesall, Lancashire, Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said:
“We have now had time to consider the decision made by the Secretary of State to refuse consent for our plans to develop underground gas storage at Preesall, Lancashire.
“This outcome is made even more disappointing given the fact that our application was recommended for approval by the Planning Inspectorate, who spent nine months rigorously examining our proposals and making their recommendations to the Secretary of State.
“This is compounded by the fact that we had secured Statements of Common Ground with Lancashire County Council and Wyre Council who both stated that they had no concerns regarding geology, including the location of the proposed gas storage caverns and the potential impact of any seismic activity. In fact, both organisations have stated that ‘the revised assessment by the applicant is sufficient to demonstrate that there are salt deposits that could safely accommodate the creation of underground gas storage caverns’.
“Their reports go on to say that the safe storage of gas would then be a matter for Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulated by the Health & Safety Executive and state, ‘it is therefore concluded that the geology of the site in the area of the proposed caverns is capable of safely accommodating the proposed development’.
“Under section 118 of the Planning Act 2008, there is a process of appeal open to us in which the decision can be challenged by means of a claim for judicial review, and there is a period of six weeks in which this claim can be made to the High Court.
“Halite and its board continue to analyse the detail behind the decision, and we will consider our next course of action once this review has been completed.”
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