Following a public inquiry in July, HOW Planning has secured approval for an underground gas storage facility in salt caverns in Northwich, Cheshire on behalf of King Street Energy.
HOW said the facility will help to meet the urgent need for additional gas storage in the UK as well as maintaining a security of supply into the future, which will also avoid surges in gas prices.
Located to the South East of Northwich, the huge underground site will house 10 salt caverns each of which will have the capacity to hold 160million cubic metres of tradable gas. Only 10% of surface land will be used by the development retaining the rest for farm use and wildlife landscaping.
The site is one of a few locations in the UK where such a project is possible due to the mineral content of the area; an area which is already associated with salt extraction and exploration.
In addition to the Salt Caverns, the planning approval includes permission to construct a pipeline which will straddle the Wirral and Cheshire boundary, connecting the King Street site to a discharge point at the Mersey Estuary, to enable the caverns to be created through a process known as solution mining. Once at the caverns are at a required size the water will be pumped back out into the estuary, leaving a natural storage space.
Manchester-based HOW Planning have worked with Wirral Borough Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council throughout the planning process as well as a extensive range of statutory and non statutory consultees and the public.
Richard Woodford, partner at HOW Planning, said: "As part of the application we have carried out a huge environmental assessment to ensure there are no adverse impacts on the surrounding environment.
"The project is of major significance to the whole country as it will help contribute to a greater stabilisation and flexibility in the UK gas market and help minimise the risk of possible price fluctuations during seasonal variations in gas supply."