Fylde gas roadshow a ‘PR stunt’

The Let's Talk About Shale Roadshow
The Let's Talk About Shale Roadshow
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People on the Fylde were given the chance to ask questions on fracking at a series of roadshows staged by the representative body for the onshore oil and gas industry.

More than 700 questions were answered by experts, institutions and academics while 800 responses were statements as opposed to questions.

The roadshows were today branded a “blatant PR attempt” to win over local people.

The most asked question in the UKOOG study was; “what is shale gas and fracking?’”, with 20 per cent asking for more information on the subject.

The most prevalent topic for questions submitted was said to relate to understanding more about potential environmental impacts of fracking, which is the extraction of gas from deep-lying shale rocks using high pressure water and chemicals.

The Let’s Talk About Shale programme was run by the onshore oil and gas industry in recognition of the fact that the public is subjected to a stream of information from a range of sources, much of which is contradictory.

It encouraged people in the areas likely to be affected by fracking to ask anything they would like to know through a dedicated website.

In addition, people got involved by sending freepost postcards, attending numerous speaker club events held with local groups, and via a van in towns and villages, which met more than 2,500 people throughout September.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said: “We are delighted that there has been so much interest from the public and such an overwhelming response.

“There is clearly a significant appetite from people to learn more about shale gas if they have the opportunity to ask questions.”

“We will be creating new opportunities for the public to ask questions next year.”

However, Barbara Richardson, from Roseacre Action Group, said: “The campaign is a blatant PR attempt to try and convince the public fracking is safe, despite the ever-growing opposition.

“They are trying to make it appear they are listening to people and reassuring them by answering their questions, but in reality the answers received fall far short and do nothing of the kind!

“Despite all the assurances we get that the UK has a strong regulatory regime there are many, including our own MPs, who do not yet think that the regulations are robust or far reaching enough.”

Lancashire County Council will decide early next year whether to approve gas exploration company Cuadrilla’s applications to drill at sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton in the Fylde countryside.

Many business leaders are convinced a shale gas industry will give Lancashire a jobs boost through direct work as well as in the supply chain.

However, opponents say the fracking extraction process could cause pollution, harm the environment and trigger mass industrialisation of rural areas .