Business chiefs across Lancashire today welcomed a decision by one of the country’s biggest unions to back fracking.
The GMB has stated at its annual conference that it will back the shale gas industry as gas will continue to be needed in British industry for years to come and importing it from countries with regulatory and environmental standards lower than ours was not moral.
Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for Energy and Utilities, said: “Gas will remain crucially important in meeting Britain’s future energy needs.
“The simple truth is that the UK will be using gas for many decades to come. Over 80 per cent of homes in the UK are heated by gas.
“If exploratory drilling reveals a plentiful supply of UK shale gas reserves, is it not a moral duty for Britain to take responsibility for providing for our own gas needs from those supplies, rather than importing gas from elsewhere?”
Energy firm Cuadrilla is awaiting a decision from Lancashire County Council on plans to drill at two Fylde sites – Little Plumpton and Roseacre.
The GMB has also welcomed shale industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas’ (UKOOG) development of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, which will have its base in Blackpool.
As part of this agreement, the GMB will have a seat on the Operation and Advisory Council of the National College.
Ken Cronin, UKOOG chief executive, said: “I am delighted to be working with the GMB, their history is immersed in the gas industry and we have a lot of common interest. Natural gas from shale has the potential to generate many thousands of highly skilled well paid jobs.”
Mike Damms, speaking for the North West Energy Task Force, a group of businesses backing the shale gas industry, said:“The GMB’s recognition of the important role natural gas will play in meeting the future energy needs of the British economy is welcome news.
“As the trade union says, having a reliable access to natural gas is not only a national security issue, but a moral and environmental one too.
“This is particularly the case if we are going to be importing gas from around the world.
“Thousands of Lancashire jobs from a variety of sectors rely on having a secure supply of energy and this can no longer be ignored.”
“I welcome the trade union’s entry into the shale gas debate and I hope this goes some way in helping to focus policymakers minds.”