Marks and Spencer to close at Freeport.
Marks and Spencer to close at Freeport.

I’m really disappointed that Marks and Spencer has announced its closing its store at Fleetwood’s Freeport Retail Outlet. Once again we’re losing a big name which will affect foot fall to the town. I’ve written to M+S and if you’d like to see a copy of that letter please have a look on my Facebook page. One of the reasons they’ve given for closing the store is people’s changing shopping habits – with more of us choosing to shop online. If we want to maintain a busy, vibrant town centre supporting jobs and small businesses then we need to all commit ourselves to shopping locally where we can. In the meantime I’m meeting with local councillors on Friday to discuss the measures we can take to support our town centre retailers and attract new businesses to the area.

Having written many letters to various different Government departments I’ve finally had a response from DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) regarding my concerns over Halite’s gas storage facility.

In particular I had written expressing my deep worries about the plans to dump 19,000 tons of highly salty brine into the sea off Rossall on a daily basis. In response to this DEFRA has said:

‘The Government is committed to improving and protecting the marine environment and appropriate measures have been and are being taken to ensure that the marine environment is protected from any adverse effects from the Halite outfall. There have been several other gas storage projects within the UK and the gas storage facility at Aldbrough in Yorkshire is most similar to that at Preesall. The Environment Agency (EA) issued a discharge permit for this site and was responsible for monitoring its operation which began in 2005. Monitoring demonstrated that the brine outfall behaved as predicted by the models and that there was no long-term build up in salinity.

‘The Rossall Outfall Pipe takes discharge from the wastewater treatment works at Fleetwood. This is located almost two miles north of the Halite outfall. All studies show that ambient salinity levels will be met within a much shorter distance than this and will not be trapped by this outfall pipe. The surveys and assessments that have been carried out on the Halite outfall have in fact all taken place after this Rossall outfall was constructed.

‘You have suggested that the permit is no longer valid. Recent information using new models and Halite Energy’s sea bed survey in 2017 does not suggest a need to change the permit. The EA will be responsible for ensuring that the strict conditions of the permit, which have been included to protect the environment, are adhered to. The Marine Monitoring Group was set up to discuss and agree the details of the new surveys, which the operator is required to carry out.

‘With regard to the outfall pipe, the marine licence requires the outfall to be buried at least 3.2 feet below the sea bed. The licence does not authorise the deposit of rock protection along the pipeline, only within and adjacent to the promenade. If required elsewhere, then a variation to the licence would be needed from the Marine Management Organisation, which would then assess the impact of the works prior to determining the application.’

I’d be very interested in hearing your views to this response from DEFRA. Please email me at

Finally I’m over the moon that the Healthier Fleetwood initiative has been named regional champion in a prestigious competition to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards asked MPs to find and nominate those individuals or teams they thought have made the biggest improvements to health services in their constituencies.

I nominated Healthier Fleetwood and from more than 800 entries, senior experts in each region chose the ten most outstanding.

Having been named regional champions, Healthier Fleetwood will now vie with other regional winners from across England for the national award, to be presented at a special ceremony in the Palace of Westminster in July.


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