The company behind a massive gas storage project under the River Wyre 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 to create storage caverns, before deposing 17,000 tons a day of the hypersaline brine out to sea at Rossall, creating a ‘dead zone’.
The company proposes to store millions of cubic feet of gas in these salt caverns in a project which has proved controversial and has previously been rejected at several separate Planning Inspectorate hearings, before being given the green light at Government level.
Halite insists that both the gas storage facilities and the process of depositing brine in the sea are safe, and will both be overseen by stringent guidelines.
But in the latest development, the Environment Agency has confirmed that Halite’s extraction licence is no longer in place and that the energy firm will need to apply for a new one.
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, who highlighted the loss of the licence after writing to the EA, welcomed the news.
She said: “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.”
The licence included a condition that stipulated the abstraction must have commenced by a certain date.
But 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 needed to make an assessment and determine the application before the cut-off point. Halite will now have to apply for a new licence.
Ms Smith said: “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.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The Agency issue a wide range of permit types across a variety of activities.
“In December 2017 we, along with Defra, published the Water Abstraction Plan.
“The plan sets out how we will address unsustainable abstraction, develop a stronger catchment focus and modernise the abstraction service.
“We can confirm that Halite Energy Group Limited’s Abstraction Licence at Fleetwood Dock is no longer in effect. To abstract in future an application for a new licence will be necessary.”
Halite, now part of NPL Estates, has been approached for a comment but has not yet responded.