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Shale gas firm's spend hits £6.8m in Lancashire

Cuadrilla's fracking rig at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's fracking rig at Preston New Road

Shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has said that its spend in the county economy has hit £6.8m.

In its latest Putting Lancashire First commitments tracker , which includes figures up to December 31 the report says that its shale gas exploration operations has increased spend by over £2m alone.

The total full time and contract jobs which have been created now stands at 55. Cuadrilla also paid out £161,000 in community payments in 2017, £100,000 of which was to the Community Benefit Fund run by Community Foundation For Lancashire who are deciding with the help of a local panel how to distribute this money to the benefit of the wider community.

The rest of the money has been paid direct to local residents who live close to the Preston New Road shale gas exploration site.

Further payments to households will follow in the next quarterly tracker.

The tracker figures have been independently verified by Danbro Accounting of Lytham. The next tracker will be released in April 2018 with figures to 31st March 2018.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “Having completed the vertical well through the Bowland shale, where we have acquired very useful data, and started drilling the first horizontal well into UK shale, we are delighted to demonstrate that Lancashire’s economy has benefited by almost £7m to date.

"Working with Lancashire suppliers remains a priority for us and we are grateful for their high quality services and support and pleased we have also enabled the creation of so many local jobs.”

He added that to further maximise local spend, Cuadrilla is working with the North and Western Lancashire Chamber to hold a series of Meet the Buyer sessions in the area. The first of these sessions, held in November 2017, proved to be very popular, so another is planned in the first quarter of 2018.

Businesses interested in future opportunities should register on the supply chain portal visit www.shalegaslancashire.co.uk.

But opponents of shale gas have criticised the report.

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: "A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire responded “From the outset we have seen that Cuadrilla’s claim to be putting Lancashire first has been a sham, with even the main contract for their pad construction going to a company outside the county.

"It is telling that after 12 months operating they now claim to have 10 per cent fewer supply chain registrations than they had at the start of 2017, showing that local supply chain businesses are visibly underwhelmed by the claims that they are making."