The number of jobs created by the shale gas industry will be lower than forecast and most will not go to local people, the government has been warned.
A controversial fracking operation near Blackpool was highlighted at a private meeting for Whitehall officials, showing how little the community benefits from jobs that are created.
New figures also cast doubt on David Cameron’s claim that the country will benefit from 74,000 jobs thanks to the controversial practice – and suggest the true number could be less than a third of that amount.
Amec, an engineering consultancy firm that is advising the energy department, has reportedly come up with an alternative estimate of just 24,000.
According to the Financial Times, the company warned government officials at the meeting last month that less than one in five jobs created during the fracking operation at Preese Hall went to local people.
It also said the work is typically short-term, with contracts ranging between four and nine years.
Back in August the prime minister praised fracking, the process of releasing shale gas trapped underground by injecting fluid to fracture rocks, saying it would create jobs.
Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Lawrence Carter said: “Cuadrilla’s figure of 74,000 UK jobs was cooked up to convince the people of Lancashire that fracking is worth the pain. So it is good to see that independent analysts completely disagree with this wild assessment.
“Greenpeace maintains that the short-term jobs created by fracking, if and when it comes on stream, do not compare to the over 26,000 jobs in clean energy that already exist in the North West and the many thousands more that can be created if we are not distracted by fracking.”
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “A number of recent reports have highlighted the potential economic benefits that a properly regulated shale gas industry can bring to Lancashire and to Britain.
“All these reports agree that a successful shale industry will add tens of thousands of jobs; with estimates ranging from a low of approximately 25,000 to a high of more than 100,000.
“The notion that jobs in shale gas need to be at the expense of jobs in renewables or in any other industry is fanciful at best. The UK and Lancashire needs all the domestically produced energy and all the associated jobs it can safely get.
“Cuadrilla is working hard to unlock Lancashire’s energy and with it the potential to provide the UK with billions of pounds in tax revenue and tens of thousands of jobs; both skilled, unskilled and throughout the supply chain.”