Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has launched a charm offensive in Blackpool.
The company, which wants to explore for gas beneath the Fylde using the controversial fracking process, has embarked on a series of meetings and talks to outline its case to businesses across the resort.
Cuadrilla representatives met members of the Central Blackpool Business Forum and Ma Kelly’s among others to explain the process and the benefits it might bring if given the go-ahead by the Government later this summer.
But the meetings have drawn criticism from opponents who say fracking is a threat to the environment.
Around 50 staff from the Ma Kelly’s bars in Blackpool North, Central, South, Fleetwood and The New Albert listened to Eric Vaughn of Cuadrilla speak about the fracking process. Mr Vaughn, a veteran of many fracking operations in the UK and US, spoke to the bar staff and fielded a number of questions.
He talked about the earth tremors of 2011 but said that lessons had been learned and that new technologies would prevent a reoccurrence.
Mick Sugden, managing director of the Ma Kelly’s Group said: “It was great to have Cuadrilla come along and present to our staff.
“If this can be done safely, we really shouldn’t stand in the way of progress and miss out on the local opportunities it presents.”
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “Listening and answering questions that people locally have about our gas exploration plans in Lancashire is vitally important to us. We know people want to understand the facts about the operations that can and will be undertaken safely and with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.
“They are also keen to learn more about the benefits, such as jobs, it will bring to Lancashire as well as increased energy security for the UK.”
A spokesman for the Preston New Road Action Group said: ““There seems to be a concerted effort by Cuadrilla to try and convince people of the benefits of fracking, especially in those areas which will not be directly impacted. This appears to be by deliberately exaggerating the benefits especially those of jobs in an area where they know jobs are needed.
“The shale jobs myth has already been robustly disproved during the Lancashire fracking hearing in Blackpool.
We know for a fact that as people become more aware of what fracking actually entails, the more likely they are to oppose it. The latest DECC attitude revealed more people are opposed to fracking than support it.”