Angry Fylde residents have blasted a House of Lords report which calls for fracking for shale gas to be made an “urgent national priority”.
The Lords’ Economic Affairs Select Committee also called for regulations and permits surrounding exploration and the extraction of gas from shale rock deep below ground to be simplified, saying that the risks of drilling are low if managed correctly.
It also claims the potential jobs boost in the North West, including the Fylde, needs to be better promoted by energy firms and calls on the Government to act on its pledge to go “all out for shale”.
But anti-fracking campaigners on the Fylde said the report cherry picks evidence to produce a foregone conclusion and disregards concerns of residents who would have to live with the industry.
Barbara Richardson of Roseacre Awareness group said: “I am absolutely appalled by this report. They are riding rough-shod over local people who will have to live with this industry, they do not.
“I don’t believe the current regulations are adequate and so simplifying regulations and permits is not on. I read a news report today about a shale gas well in Colorado leaking and nearby residents having to be evacuated. I don’t feel reassured by anything the industry has said that things like that are not going to happen here.”
Ian Roberts chairman of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking gave evidence in December for this report to try to get across the views of local people but said the people on the committee included the likes of Lord Lawson who is sceptical on climate change.
He said: “I knew at the time we were just being dismissed. The outcome was entirely predictable.
“This report is short-sighted and blinkered. It appeals to the greedy and the selfish.
“Calls for simplification of regulations are reckless. What we have is self regulation, marking your own homework, if they tone down what fragile regulation is in place at the moment, it would be a recipe for environmental disaster.”
Mike Hill, Lytham chartered engineer, said: “Before we can “go all out for shale” we need to ensure the public and environment are protected as well as key businesses in the North West – tourism and farming. Both will be hit hard by fracking and are likely to result in a net jobs loss for the area and net economic loss at the same time.”
Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth North West Campaigner said: “Calling for the Government to ‘simplify’ regulations and speed up the process will not reassure local communities and to describe legitimate public concerns as ‘unfounded’ ignores a vast body of evidence.”
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “The Lords spent seven months cherry-picking the wafer-thin evidence that fits a foregone conclusion about the benefits of shale gas. This is just taxpayer-funded cheerleading from unelected politicians.”
In the report, committee chairman Lord MacGregor, said: “A successful shale gas industry in the UK would be good for our economy and energy security.
“The Committee strongly supports the Government’s decision to go ‘all out for shale’. But here in the UK we have not yet left the starting gate. Developing a successful shale gas and oil industry in the UK must be an urgent national priority.
“We have concluded that legitimate concerns can be addressed through appropriate regulations.
“But there seems to be a regulatory logjam; the Environment Agency has not received or approved a single permit application to undertake hydraulic fracturing since 2012.”
Lee Petts, spokesman for the North West Energy Task Force and director of Remsol, said: “After speaking to more than 300 businesses at the NW Shale Supply Chain conference last month in Blackpool, it is clear how important onshore gas will be for creating jobs, boosting economic growth and raising revenues in Lancashire.
“The Lords Committee has rightly recognised the need for more communication on the potential for shale, which is why the North West Energy Task Force is committed to working with North West businesses, to help the region get ready for shale, in investment, skills and expertise.”
A spokesman for Cuadrilla the firm which wants to carry out fracking on the Fylde said: “Cuadrilla welcomes the committee’s strong support for shale gas exploration.
“We agree that the appraisal and development of the UK’s shale gas and oil resources is a national priority.”