The Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has revealed that the company behind the massive gas storage project in her constituency has lost its licence to extract water from the Fleetwood Fish Dock.
Halite intended to use this water to wash out huge salt caverns in Preesall before every day dumping 17,000 tons of the hypersaline brine out to sea at Rossall creating a ‘dead zone’.
After once again writing to Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency (EA) the authority has in response confirmed to Ms Smith that as of 17 July 2020, the abstraction licence is no longer in effect.
The licence included a condition that stipulated the abstraction must have commenced by this date. Halite failed to meet this deadline and instead applied to change this condition and extend the date to 2023. However, the EA did not receive the information they needed to make their assessment and determine the application before the so called, ‘self-destruct’ date.
To be able to abstract water from the docks, Halite will now have to make an application for a new licence.
“In my letter to Sir James,” Ms Smith said, “I pointed out that 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 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, arthropods 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).
“I am committed to fighting this project and will continue to do everything I can to stop it from going ahead.
“Should Halite make another application I hope the Environment Agency will agree with me that the damage to our ecology will be irreparable and oppose any such request.
I hope this is the beginning of the end of a scheme that was opposed by Lancashire County Council, Wyre Council and thousands of residents from Over Wyre and Fleetwood.”