Businesses get behind fracking

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More than 100 businesses have backed a call to action from the North West Energy Task Force to support fracking for shale gas.

The task force challenged industry and policy makers to get behind shale, to boost ‘once in a life time’ opportunities for skills and jobs in the region.

In a letter, the group led by 10 business leaders warned “thousands of British jobs and much-needed investment are at risk from more competitive overseas economies”.

The business people believe the responsible development of natural gas from shale could:

• Create thousands of jobs in new industries and ease pressures facing UK manufacturers challenged by more competitive overseas economies

• Generate sustainable export-led economic growth, based on a thriving, competitive private sector

• Boost tax revenues for much-needed investment in the region’s public services

John Kersey, Preston-based entrepreneur and spokesman for the task force, said: “The exploration and potential for development of natural gas from shale presents a once in a generation opportunity to harness the benefits that a new supply of gas could create in terms of jobs and encouraging investment in our region.

“We call on business, industry and policy-makers to get behind shale to ensure the North West is in the best possible position to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

However, there are concerns about the ramifications of the controversial process, and whether it can cause dangerous seismic activity, lead to contaminated groundwater and create air quality issues.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and member of the Task Force, said: “Done safely and responsibly, we welcome the development of natural gas from Lancashire’s shale and the potentially fantastic opportunity it means for North West job and wealth creators as well as local communities.

“We believe that the development would be an important step in meeting the UK’s future energy needs, while also providing a major boost to the local and national economy.”