Two influential Blackpool business leaders have thrown their weight behind an organisation which supports fracking on the Fylde.
The chairman of Stay Blackpool Claire Smith, which represents 200 hoteliers, guest houses and B&Bs and Martin Long, the chairman of the Blackpool Business Leaders Group, which represents over 100 business leaders from across the private sector, have agreed to join the panel of the North West Energy Task Force to help shape the organisation’s policies.
The task force, which has this week passed the milestone of 400 business members, wants to see Lancashire develop its shale gas resources in a responsible manner to provide business opportunities and jobs for local people.
This week, the company which is exploring for natrual gas on the Fylde, Cuadrilla, put its second bid for planning permission to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four wells at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton.
Claire Smith said: “If the shale gas industry can be developed responsibly it could be really good for the area. We have so many problems here it could be a shot in the arm for our economy.
“I went to the supply chain conference and saw there are opportunities for small businesses to find a niche.
“There is a £2m fund for them to apply for help from if they have a product they thinking will be of use in the industry. It could complement our tourism rather than damage it.
“If people say would I live next door to a gas rig, I would say I would rather do that than live next door to derelict hotels like we have now in Blackpool. There are a thousand horror stories from places such as the US but we have a much stronger regulatory system here, so if it can be done safely it can be a great opportunity which we should not miss out on.”
Martin Long, Chairman of the Blackpool Business Leadership Group, and Chairman of Napthen’s Solicitors said: “My role in representing Blackpool’s economic and business interests tells me that we cannot afford to turn this unique opportunity down.
“I am thrilled to be invited to join a growing and eminent group of business leaders, economists and earth scientist.”
However, Helen Rimmer, from North West Friends of the Earth said: “Cuadrilla and their lobbyists will go to great lengths to sell the supposed benefits of fracking when the evidence shows the local economic benefits are hugely over-hyped. Despite several years of disruption to local communities, the proposed fracking site near Little Plumpton will support only eleven jobs.
“A far better solution is to boost Lancashire’s renewable energy industry.”