A poll of 500 Lancashire businesses released today (16th February 2016) found just over half thought shale gas would have a positive impact on the local economy.
The research, for the pro-shale North West Energy Task Force (NWETF), also showed that nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed thought the economic effects would be negative.
The results were released to coincide with evidence by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce to the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack for shale gas in the county.
The poll, by the research company, ComRes, is described by Cuadrilla-funded NWETF as the largest publicly-available survey of Lancashire businesses on shale gas.
Claire Smith, a local hotelier and President of StayBlackpool, representing over 200 local B&Bs and hotels, said:
“This independent poll clearly shows that a majority of Lancashire’s wealth and job creators believe that a thriving shale gas sector would be good for our local economy.”
Of the 500 businesses surveyed,
52% thought shale gas would have a positive outcome on Lancashire’s economy
22% thought it would have a negative effect.
56% thought using natural gas in the medium term (length not specified) instead of coal was “the most efficient way for the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
63% thought the UK should “prioritise the production of domestic gas from shale over importing natural gas from overseas”.
According to the poll, 32% of businesses thought the shale gas industry should give priority for new jobs to local residents.
Katharine Peacock, Managing Director of ComRes, said:
“The business community are keen to see real benefits for the local area from a shale gas industry in Lancashire– prioritising local residents for new jobs created and industry taxes going to preserve the local environment.”
Last week, the fracking inquiry in Blackpool heard that Cuadrilla estimated its proposed shale gas sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood would generate 22 jobs in total. Of these, only security and cleaning jobs were likely to go to local people. Jobs in fracking and drilling were likely to go to people from outside the area.
Claire Stephenson, of Preston New Road, said:
“Preston New Road are amazed that a PR company paid to promote shale gas on behalf of Cuadrilla, is attempting to ratify fracking in Lancashire through their business connections.”
“There is infinitely more at risk for local residents and communities than any pie-in-the-sky job prospects.”
“For a paltry, and confirmed by Cuadrilla, 22 mainly security and cleaning jobs in Lancashire, it seems fairly pointless that a survey like this should be even carried out.”
“Future energy jobs will be found in clean renewables, not climate-damaging fossil fuels.”
ComRes interviewed 500 business decision makers in Lancashire by telephone between 18th January and 4th February 2016. Data was weighted to be representative of businesses in Lancashire by business size. More details from ComRes