As you may know, Halite, the company behind the gas storage project in Preesall, Knott End and Fleetwood has announced its wanting to start work on the site access road in Preesall this month.
Halite intends to store a minimum working capacity of 130 million cubic metres of gas underground in nineteen purpose-built salt caverns in Preesall and Knott End. The project had been previously refused over a thirteen year period by Lancashire County Council, Wyre Borough Council, as well as by two previous Secretaries of State. The last refusal was on the grounds that Halite had failed to demonstrate the suitability of the geology or provide convincing evidence of the size of the project.
Just like me, many of you are overwhelmingly against what will be a huge industrial development. Shockingly it will include the daily discharge of thousands of tons of toxic brine into the Wyre Estuary at Rossall Point in Fleetwood.
The damage to the ecology of the area is immeasurable. The Wyre Estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and supports the largest area of ungrazed saltmarsh in North West England as well as diverse marine life.
The whole area is part of Morecambe Bay Special Area of Conservation. Marine biologists confirm the dumping of toxic brine will create a ‘dead’ zone, destroying the food web leading to a dramatic effect on all associated wildlife as well as impacting on local livelihoods.
Halite will pump out 80,000 cubic metres of toxic brine every day for at least 10 years.
The caverns are due to be built on land near old salt mines and brine extraction wells, some of which are still subsiding. The company has permission for up to 62 lorries a day to go to and from the site, on narrow country roads, past our schools and homes, during the construction period.
This project is projected to cost at the very least £600 million – at a time when our focus should be on protecting our planet and investing in renewable energy, collected from renewable resources including solar, wind, water, geothermal and biomass.
If you believe as I do that this project should never have been approved and should never go ahead please support the No Gas Storage campaign group and sign and share their online petition. This will be sent to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. You can find the petition here http://chng.it/N7RcpKZBCm.
Last week I wrote to Sir James Bevan Chief Executive of the Environment Agency voicing my opposition to Halite abstracting water from the Fleetwood Fish Dock and pumping out hypersaline brine caused by the cavern-washing procedure, 2.3km out to sea at Rossall with the resultant dead zone.
I am committed to fighting this project and will continue to do everything I can to stop it from going ahead.
Halite Energy have a water abstraction licence which will expire if the abstraction has not commenced by 17 July 2020. I have been made aware there is currently a license application from Halite to The Environment Agency Permitting Team to seek a further extension to the July 2020 license. This licence should not be extended.
Dear Sir James,
Re: Halite Energy – application to extend current water abstraction licence from Fleetwood Docks
I write concerning a matter I know has also been raised by a local group called “Brinewatch” in my constituency.
Like Brinewatch’s group of marine professionals who have written, I share their concerns around Halite Energy’s plans for underground gas storage in my constituency. This includes, in its construction, abstracting water from the Fleetwood Fish Dock and pumping out hypersaline brine caused by the cavern-washing procedure, 2.3km out to sea at Rossall with the resultant dead zone.
I am aware that Halite Energy have a water abstraction licence (Licence Number NW/072/0400/001) that allows them to potentially abstract water from Fleetwood Docks. The current licence will expire if the abstraction it authorises has not commenced by 17 July 2020. I have been made aware there is currently a license application from Halite to The Environment Agency Permitting Team to seek a further extension to the July 2020 license.
I am writing to make the case that this licence is not extended.
The Fleetwood Fish Dock was chosen after abstraction of water for the construction of the caverns from the Wyre Estuary, Morecambe Bay, or artesian wells was rejected due to impacts on the European protected areas of the Wyre Estuary and Morecambe Bay and on the areas fresh water supply.
The proposal is to draw water from the Fish Dock at Fleetwood, through the existing inlet and associated culvert, which is 1.22m in diameter. A Pump Station would abstract seawater from the Fish Dock making use of this existing culvert which was originally built in the 1950’s to supply cooling water to the former Fleetwood Power Station. The seawater would be filtered through a mesh with a square aperture measuring 4mm square, before being pumped in an underground pipeline under the River Wyre to the Booster Pump Station at the Preesall site.
The amount of water required for this project is immense (up to 80,000 -cubic metres a day). It should be noted that the levels of water both in the dock and the marina are currently seriously depleted.
The Environmental Statement from Halite was based on the Wyre Estuary being regularly dredged which has not been the case for some time. The abstraction process itself could cause further sand accretion in the dock which would further affect the Dock and Marina even more.
Abstraction of water from the Fish Dock is supposed to be controlled to ensure a viable water level is always maintained in the dock.  Halite themselves identified this in their Environmental Statement that the abstraction of seawater from Fleetwood Fish Dock could result in detrimental effects to the water environment meaning water quantity within the docks could decrease even more. In addition, they noted that in the absence of mitigation measures, abstraction of seawater from Fleetwood Fish Dock has the potential to result in changes to the hydrological regime of the Dock itself and the tidal channel that supplies it.
I share my constituents’ concerns about the presence of Marine Invasive and non-native species (INNS) in the docks that could be spread during construction, project implementation and decommissioning. Research has identified many such INNS in Fleetwood including ascidians, bryozoans, anthropods and algae.
Finally, several marine protection areas have been extended or introduced in the area since the license was granted including:
the Wyre Estuary SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest, 1995) the Wyre Lune Marine Conservation Zone (2019) the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area (extended towards the site of the project’s planned brine outfall in 2017) Shell Flat and Lune Deep Special Area of Conservation (SAC, 2017) the Morecambe Bay SSSI (1990) and SAC (2005).
In summary, considering the changes around our coast, the amount of water available in the docks, the presence of marine INNS and the extension of environmental protections to the local area, I am asking the Environment Agency to review this application for this extension.
Cat Smith Member of Parliament Lancaster and Fleetwood