The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, announced today it had spent a total of £6.8m in the Lancashire economy in the past two years. But new figures show the cost of policing outside the company’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool reached almost £6m for a single year.
Releasing the latest data from its Putting Lancashire First tracker (above), Cuadrilla said in the final three months of 2017 it had spent more than £2m directly and indirectly in the county’s economy. In the same period, the figures show the company had taken on no new full-time employees but created an extra four contract or temporary jobs and one apprentice or internship.
Direct spending, at £1.92m in October-December 2017, was the highest quarterly figure recorded by Cuadrilla so far. This period coincided with continued drilling a vertical well and preparations for horizontal drilling. But during the same period, indirect spending – the money spent by Cuadrilla’s contractors with other Lancashire suppliers – was the lowest recorded.
Also in the final quarter of 2017, Cuadrilla’s figures show it had contributed £61,000 through the shale industry community benefit scheme, £7,000 in local sponsorships and £2,000 in local donations. An extra 29 businesses registered on the company’s supply chain portal.
Policing cost at Preston New Road reaches nearly £6m
New data from Lancashire Constabulary put the cost of policing operations at Preston New Road during 2017 at £5.919m.
There have been anti-fracking protests outside the site entrance since Cuadrilla began work in January 2017. The force said about 100 officers were directly involved each day in policing the operation. It said:
“As has been demonstrated a number of times when campaigners have carried out ‘lock ons’, it is essential to have the number of officers at the site that are currently allocated to the operation.”
The latest policing data comprised:
- Officers plain time – cost of officers scheduled to work that day
- Officer overtime
- Non-staff costs – equipment, food, hire cars, welfare vans
- Mutual aid – spending on support from other forces
- Consequential costs – time off in lieu for officers working on the operation
Previous figures from Lancashire Police suggested the total cost in 2017 was just over £3m. But this figure comprised only overtime, non-staff costs and mutual aid. The latest data also included officer plain time and consequential costs. The force said:
“This is to provide further information and to ensure that we are being transparent as well as consistent with the information that we provide to the Home Office.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grimshaw, has applied for special grant funding towards the cost of policing. On 12 January 2018, the Home Office Minister, Nick Hurd, said the application was being reviewed and a decision would be made “in due course”. DrillOrDrop report
According to the new data, police spending at Preston New Road from October-December 2017 was half that of July-September 2017 and the second lowest during the year.
During the final quarter of the year, 11 people were arrested and charged. Five of the charges were obstructing the highway, three under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations Act, one for obstructing the police and two for what were classified by the police as other offences. See DrillOrDrop report on arrests throughout 2017.
Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said today:
“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.”
Frack Free Lancashire, a group opposed to Cuadrilla’s activities, said:
“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% less 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.
“The real story here is that, based on the police’s own data, our estimate of the real full cost of the police force facilitating the fracking operations is twice what Cuadrilla claim to have spent in the local economy. Local people should be under no illusions. This industry will cost the community dearly if it is allowed to take hold and no amount of glossy PR handouts can paper over the cracks that are becoming more evident every day.”