Two supporters of the Preston New Road plans gave their views at the evening session on Day 10 of the inquiry.
They were Malcolm McVicar, vice-chancellor and chief executive of the University of Central Lancashire from 1998 until 2013, and John Kersey, chairman of the Lancashire branch of the Institute of Directors since 2012 and a founder of the Cuadrilla-funded North West Energy Task Force. We’ll be reporting live on what they have to say. The opponents of the scheme will have their say later this evening and we’ll post their comments separately.
Mr Kersey said he had lived and worked in Lancashire for about 50 years. I have a deep and long-standing interest in Lancashire’s economy. I have not benefited from the shale gas industry date and did not expect to the future, he said. Shortage of secure energy was an achilles heal of any industry. It was one of the biggest challenges for the UK.
The North Sea gas supplies is in long-term decline. This year the UK will import 53% of its supplies, 25% of it from LNG, mainly from Qatar. Security of supply is vulnerable to instability.
The government is committed to ensure the planning system should support sustainable development. Indigenous shale gas development could reduce import dependency, he said.
The National Grid scenarios suggested UK shale could contribute 32bn cubic metres. This would provide more stability compared with continued imports. These two sites are of national importance, he said. I believe the national importance of the two sites be considered and they be allowed to progress.
Mr McVicar said his top priority at the University of Central Lancashire was to contribute to the local economy. He is now a member of the Lancashire Economic Partnership. He said Lancashire economic and social resources but there were challenges of unemployment and the level of economic activity that struggled to support public services.
He said Blackpool, one of the most deprived boroughs, would benefit from shale gas if it developed as an industry. The energy academy in the town would develop the skills needed by the gas industry but it would only do this if there was a demand. There needed to be an active shale gas industry in the area. There was a need to grow a strong and sustainable economy. The development of gas resources in Lancashire would support a long-term future.