£2.9m spent already in county as fracking moves closer

Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan
Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan

Gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has issued an update to its “Putting Lancashire First” commitments tracker.

The latest figures show that the site construction work during April to June this year, at the company’s shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, has more than doubled the total of direct and indirect spend into the county from Cuadrilla and its suppliers.

“We are proud to continue to put Lancashire first”

The total Lancashire spend as at the end of June amounts to £2.9 million compared to £1.4 million in March.

A further nine full time jobs were also created during this period.

Lancashire businesses registering with the Supply Chain Portal managed by both Lancashire Chambers of Commerce in order to be considered for contracts connected to the Preston New Road operations also increased to 569.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “These figures clearly demonstrate that our Preston New Road exploration site in Lancashire has already significantly boosted the county’s economy as well as creating jobs for local people.

“As we start drilling the first exploration wells within the coming week we are proud to continue to put Lancashire first in order to ensure the county continues to benefit from this important national need of exploring for a new indigenous source of natural gas.”

In December 2016 CEO Francis Egan signed six public commitments to the county of Lancashire to commit Cuadrilla to putting Lancashire first in terms of creating jobs, investment, new skills and community initiatives as a result of shale gas exploration and, if exploration is successful, shale gas production in Lancashire.

The tracker figures have been independently verified by Danbro Accounting Ltd.

But Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Putting Lancashire first means listening to what people say, and they don’t want fracking.

“These industry attempts to look credible and popular are making no difference when support for fracking is at an all-time low. The true cost is to Lancashire’s landscape and quality of life for local people. Nine jobs is a good thing for those nine individuals, but compared to the tens of thousands of jobs that could be secured by investing in renewables then it really does fall away.”

Meanwhile, Green Party activists have joined campaigners at the Preston New Road fracking site to ramp up “peaceful” pressure on the shale gas industry and the government

Former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett spoke at the event, at the side of the A583, and accused police of being “aggressive” towards anti-frackers.

She said: “I’m disappointed to be having to make my third visit to the Preston New Road site. The public of Lancashire, indeed the UK public, have made it very clear that they do not want fracking.

“Lancashire County Council said no, the protectors on site, working day and night for months in the face of aggressive policing, have said fracking must not happen here, yet still Cuadrilla is throwing its shareholders money into a project that doesn’t have community consent.

“The Green Party has supported anti-fracking campaigns from the start, and the campaigns have been highly successful in preventing the start of an industry whose existence is indefensible on climate change, safety and wellbeing, and economic grounds.

“We, and the protectors, are also championing the alternatives - community-owned renewables and energy efficiency.”