Gas exploration company Cuadrilla has pledged to put Lancashire First when it comes to getting the benefits from a shale gas industry.
Chief executive Francis Egan was joined by Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, to sign a commitment to ensure that local businesses and residents are at the front of the queue when it comes to supply chain work, jobs and investment in the community as the new industry progresses.
And Cuadrilla announced that it would publish details of how many jobs are created, where the work is going, and how much money is invested in the local community on an independently audited tracker online.
Cuadrilla, which unveiled a new logo for its work in the county, also announced that it had awarded its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site build contract to Boltonbased civil engineering firm AE Yates Ltd It said the contract, worth £1.5m, ensures further jobs will be created in Lancashire and local suppliers will benefit from sub-contracted work.
Early site clearing and preparation work is expected to start in January.
Signing the six commitments to put Lancashire First at AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm stadium in front of around 100 business leaders, Francis Egan said: “Putting Lancashire First is all about the way we plan to do our business as we grow and develop.
“We are genuinely committed to putting the county first with new jobs, economic growth and community benefits, promoting prosperity for current and future generations.
“We have often spoken about how shale gas will benefit Lancashire as well as enhancing national energy security and now we are turning those words into action.”
He said even though no work had started in terms of gas drilling, Cuadrilla had, by moving its HQ to Lancashire, created 14 full time jobs and nearly £700,000 has directly gone into the Lancashire economy.
AFC Fylde supremo David Haythornthwaite spoke in support of the shale gas industry. He said: “I am a passionate support of shale gas. I am standing here at what is the epicentre of the shale gas industry of Britain and the whole of Europe. It is important that we take this opportunity with both hands. Blackpool is just down the road with areas of high deprivation and a low wage economy.”
He added that it was not just economic and energy supply benefits, money from the industry could support community projects such as AFC Fylde’s Community Foundation where up to 300 children from deprived areas next summer were expected to take part in football related activities thanks to extra sponsorship.
Dawn Cheetham, from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the supply chain portal set up together with Cuadrilla for Lancashire firms to get their share of work from the industry.
She said: “We believe developing a shale gas industry in Lancashire will be positive in terms of investment, jobs and supply chain opportunities.
“In 2015 our two chambers working with Cuadrilla lanched a basic portal. Severahl hunderd comnpanies signed up.
“Following the Secretary of State’s decision in October (to allow drilling at the Preston New Road site) we have 894, of which more than 80 per cent are from Lancashire.”