More than 50 Blackpool hoteliers today have joined a new campaign of 450 UK business leaders, academics and economists calling for shale gas to be developed to revitalise the town’s fortunes. Their support comes as a new policy paper is launched today by the North West Energy Task Force that says onshore energy development could create up to 4,500 jobs in the UK hospitality sector.
Claire Smith, the President of Stay Blackpool, which represents 200 hoteliers, guest houses and B&Bs, said: “Independent experts say shale gas can be extracted safely and Blackpool desperately needs a fresh injection of investment. We should all get behind this unique opportunity which could be a real boost for the town.”
Micheal Grewcock, of the Burbage Holiday Group, said: “It is clear that Blackpool needs to take advantage of all our available opportunities. A thriving North West-based shale gas industry – alongside renewable energy technologies – is needed to help revitalise Blackpool’s fortunes.”
The “Blackpool 50” join other leading academic and business supporters of the “North West Energy Task Force” – which calls for the development of the North West region’s energy supplies, including shale gas and renewables, to boost growth, investment and jobs in the regional economy.
They have signed a letter, published in the Daily Telegraph today, which calls “on all party leaders to get behind this unique economic and security opportunity - for the sake of the North West region and for the UK as a whole.”
The hospitality sector is a crucial part of the North West economy, making-up around 3% of Gross Value Added in the region. Unfortunately, between 2001 and 2011, the North West has seen one of the largest declines in share of total UK GVA. Blackpool in particular has been badly hit by economic downturns and a long-term decline in local tourism from its heyday in the 1980s. In recent years The Centre for Cities’ 2014 report found that Blackpool has had one of the largest real wage drops from 2012 to 2013 and the fifth lowest weekly earnings in the UK.
Despite this the hoteliers say they can play “an invaluable supportive role” to the onshore energy industry in the North West.
Their support comes following a letter in the Guardian newspaper from 50 geologists calling for the UK to responsibly develop its shale reserves.
Michael Dowling, of The Fern Royd, added:- “I want to see our town making the best use of local energy resources, in a way which boosts local livelihoods, not becoming increasingly reliant on volatile imported gas.”