Chief praises shale gas industry potential

Babs Murphy,Chief executive of the North West Lancs Chamber of Commence
Babs Murphy,Chief executive of the North West Lancs Chamber of Commence
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The chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said shale gas offers “enormous potential” for Lancashire after plans to frack in the county took a step closer.

Lancashire County Council planning officials have recommended that energy firm Cuadrilla’s proposal to frack at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton are given the go ahead when councillors look into the proposal next week.

A proposal to frack at Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, was recommended for refusal owing to traffic concerns.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of NWLCC and a member of the North West Energy Taskforce, said: “Shale gas represents a huge economic opportunity for Lancashire firms not only in terms of winning new business but also creating new jobs and generating new market opportunities.

“If Cuadrilla is successful in obtaining the relevant permissions for the Preston New Road exploration programme, opportunities for local suppliers are likely to start at a modest level.

“But the scale of this could soon expand if results from the test wells are positive and the company seeks to move to natural gas production in the county.

“It is up to all of us to work together to keep as much of these economic opportunities here in Lancashire,” she added.

Planning officers’ recommendations came in a report released a week before Lancashire County Councillors are due to meet to consider the applications.

Both sites would be drilled and fracked and then the gas flow tested to see if it would be economically viable to extract gas from the deep-lying shale rock which extends across the county.

Supporters say if feasible, it will lead to thousands of jobs being created plus gas security for the country and a supply of raw materials for industry.

Opponents say the process is difficult and messy, threatening environmental pollution and the country should be looking to invest in renewable forms of energy instead.

Councillors will meet on Tuesday at County Hall and if they agree with the officers’ views, Cuadrilla could start to drill early next year.