Fylde MP Mark Menzies today insisted that a national energy skills academy should be built on the Fylde coast.
It comes after months of campaigning which has seen the Member of Parliament hold meetings with the Energy and Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Westinghouse Nuclear Fuels and Centrica Energy about the need for a specialist learning centre to provide high-quality workers for engineering projects in the UK and abroad.
Planning permission is currently being sought for two shale gas exploration sites in Fylde, alongside a number of energy projects already under way locally, and Mr Menzies met Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to press home his insistence that a national centre should be based locally.
Following the meeting, Mr Menzies said: “Since coming to Parliament I have met with a number of companies which have told me how concerned they are about the workforce being able to cope with the amount of engineering jobs which will be on offer in the coming years, particularly in the energy sector.
“Earlier this year, I met with the then Energy Minister, Michael Fallon MP, and I floated the idea of building a national skills academy to ensure our workforce can meet the increasing demands of these industries. Especially with a new nuclear power station having been announced in Cumbria, the amount of demand for skilled people, particularly in the North West, will be considerable.
“I told him that we are in a unique position in Fylde as we currently have a nuclear fuel production plant at Springfields in Salwick, offshore wind generation in the Irish Sea and are also at the centre of the debate on shale gas exploration.
“I recently also met Alan Torevell of the North West Business Leadership Team about the group’s ambitious plans to create a tidal energy barrage across the River Ribble, linked in with similar barriers along the North West coastline.
“All these projects require skilled engineers and I want to ensure it is people from the Fylde coast who have the necessary abilities to lead these projects and other large infrastructure schemes around the world. I know there are a number of towns and cities across the UK which want this centre so when I have met with Ministers I have made it clear that I would find it completely unacceptable if it did not come to the Fylde coast.”