Cuadrilla boss invites Jeremy Corbyn to visit Preston New Road fracking site

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an immediate ban on fracking.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an immediate ban on fracking.
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Jeremy Corbyn has been invited to visit a shale gas exploration site when he meets with anti-fracking protesters outside the gate.

The Labour leader has called for an immediate ban on the controversial process of gas extraction.

Cuadrilla's fracking site on Preston New Road.

Cuadrilla's fracking site on Preston New Road.

He warned that fracking, the method of shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing underground, will have a damaging effect on the environment.

READ MORE >>> Jeremy Corbyn to join protesters in Lancashire today to call for ban on fracking

But the boss of fracking firm Cuadrilla said Labour's policies would leave the UK dependent on imported gas.

Francis Egan issued an open invitation to Mr Corbyn to visit the Preston New Road site, near Blackpool, and urged him to engage with the local workforce and not just the protesters at the gate.

The site is the UK's only operational shale exploration site and Mr Corbyn is due to meet demonstrators there today.

Labour says if the UK fully exploits its shale gas reserves, the amount of carbon released would "eliminate any hope of the Government meeting its 2050 net-zero target".

Mr Corbyn said: "We need urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, and that means the Prime Minister immediately banning fracking once and for all.

"Instead of bending the knee to a few corporations who profit from extracting fossil fuels from the ground, we need to change course now.

"It's the next generation and the world's poorest who will pay the price if this Conservative government continues to put the interests of a few polluters ahead of people.

"Tackling the climate emergency cannot be left to the free market. Labour will ban fracking and our Green Industrial Revolution will face the climate emergency head-on and leave no community behind, transforming our country's energy supply and creating 400,000 good, well-paid jobs across the country."

But Mr Egan said gas demand would continue in 2050 and the country faced a choice as to where the fuel came from.

"I am very disappointed that Labour appear to favour continued and increasing levels of gas imports by ship from the Middle East, Africa or the United States or by pipeline from Russia rather than developing a well-regulated, job-creating UK shale gas industry," he said.

Mr Egan said that "exporting UK emissions and UK jobs should not be a Labour Party policy".

He said: "The Labour Party has made it very clear that it opposes UK shale as a supply source for our required natural gas, but appears to have no policy or plan for where the UK's gas supply should instead come from.

"We can only assume that it favours continued and increasing long distance gas imports."

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokeswoman said: "Independent climate experts have recognised that natural gas has a role to play as we meet our 2050 net-zero emissions target - now firmly set in law.

"Exploring the potential of a new domestic energy source is not only compatible with these world-leading climate goals, it could also deliver substantial economic benefits, through the creation of well-paid, high-quality jobs."