Published: Thursday, 23rd July 2015
Energy Minister Lord Bourne has granted a development consent order for the Preesall underground gas storage project proposed by Halite Energy on the east side of the Wyre Estuary in Lancashire.
The project will be used to store and extract gas from local underground salt caverns.
Bourne said investment in the new infrastructure would provide sufficient storage space for initially 130 million cubic metres of gas (which could rise to 900 mcm provided certain extra conditions are met) and was “essential” to help keep the lights on and bills down.
The minister took the decision rather than Energy Secretary Amber Rudd following mounting concerns over an assumed conflict of interest involving her brother Roland Rudd whose lobby firm had canvassed the government to back the project.
Halite’s proposals were originally snubbed by the Coalition administration last year against the advice of the planning inspectors who examined the scheme. That refusal was over turned after a High Court challenge and reconsidered by ministers.
Earlier gas storage plans for the site proposed by Halite’s predecessor Canataxx had been unsuccessful following widespread local opposition including both Lancashire County Council and local planning authority Wyre Borough Council.
The decision letter issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change said there was a “pressing national need for the development of new nationally significant gas storage infrastructure of the type proposed.”