Canatxx not giving up after UK storage application denied
US-headed Canatxx vowed to "keep fighting" on Thursday, following the refusal of its planning application for a 1 billion cubic metre Fleetwood gas storage facility in the UK.
Last week ICIS Heren reported that Lancashire planning officers had recommended the site be refused permission to construct the site (see ESGM 22 January 2010). The reasons given was the application lacked sufficient information on geological infrastructure - with concerns that Canatxx had not assessed whether gas migration could occur. The facility is designed to be constructed in underground salt deposits.
"The failure to provide an adequate risk assessment for the proposal would result in considerable and understandable fear and distress within the local communities attributable to the nature of the proposal and the potential consequences of any accident occurring", the officers stated in their report.
In addition, the construction of the facility would be "detrimental to the open character of the countryside", the report said.
"This is a severe body blow to energy security of supply in the UK. We are extremely disappointed and frustrated by Lancashire County Council's decision," said Paul Grimes, Canatxx CEO, adding: "This is certainly not 'game over' for this project; we will assess our options and announce our next steps in the next few weeks. Canatxx and our financial backers have every confidence that this project will get an approval."
Cantaxx has spent over seven years trying to get planning permission for the site.
"It has been awhile, but that is not unusual for an application of this size," planning officer for Lancashire County Council Stuart Perigo told ICIS Heren, adding that there had been some inconsistencies with the application throughout the process.
Currently, applications for structures such as this storage facility have to go through a local planning process. But after 1 March, when the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) begins in earnest, applications for these types of structures - as long as they exceed 43 million cubic metres (Mm³) or if maximum flow rates surpass 4.5Mm³/day - will be handled by a more centralised body.
The IPC is expected to significantly speed up the UK planning process, with time taken to decide on typical major infrastructure applications expected to fall from 100 to 35 weeks. But concerns remain over possible changes to the IPC should the Conservative Party come to power in national elections later this year, as it has been vocal in its intention to disband the body. SL
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