I’ve been contacted by one of the Environment Agency’s (EA) Flood and Coastal Risk Managers to inform me that yet another meeting with Halite has been cancelled. The company was due to meet with the Community Liaison Panel at the beginning of June in Knott End but pulled out saying they didn’t have any new updates on their plans.
The EA has written to me to say ‘as you will be aware, in July 2015 Halite were granted a development control order by the Secretary of State for a saltfield gas storage facility in Preesall, Lancashire. Creating the storage facility will involve using high pressure water to chisel out large underground caverns (known as bulbs) to store gas. The water used will become salty during this process and will be discharged 2 kilometres out to sea.
We have been chairing a marine monitoring group, which has been set up to consider and comment on Halite’s proposals for marine monitoring before and during their operations. The marine monitoring group is made up of the Defra organisations plus the Wyre Rivers Trust. The group met for the first time in March 2018.
Since the first meeting, the company have told us that they do not have all the information needed at present for a productive second meeting to go ahead. Taking this into account they have asked us to postpone the next meeting, which we have agreed to.
We will continue to keep in regular contact with Halite. Once the company is happy they have all the information needed, we will then set up the second meeting of the marine monitoring group.’
In a letter to the EA, Halite Chief Executive Keith Budinger said, ‘Following on from the first meeting Halite Energy Group Limited (HEGL) have been engaged with a number of potential investors and this has influenced resource and focus towards Due Diligence requests.
At this time, I am unable to comment on how if any way future investors may influence the delivery of the scheme, but it would appear to me better to wait until this exercise has been concluded.
Work continues to meet the DCO requirements associated with the proposed site access and haul road, but has meant progress with finalising survey method statements and methodologies are not at a position that will enable constructive discussion by the group.
I am aware an application will be required to vary the discharge consent and action has been taken to submit the necessary form to the Environment Agency.’
Are Halite’s investors getting cold feet? What changes to the discharge consent will be required? Does this mean Halite need to submit a new application or can they just tinker with the old one – and will this involve a new environmental impact assessment? So many questions! I’ve once again written to the EA for the answers.