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Thursday, 22 September 2011 (3018945)
Fracking firm pledges jobs boost for region
by David Simister


THE COMPANY behind a controversial fracking operation in Banks has said its discovery of vast reserves of underground gas will create hundreds of jobs across the region.

Cuadrilla Resources, which has been using a site in the West Lancashire village for testing purposes, said yesterday (Wednesday, September 21) that it had discovered 200 trillion cubic feet of gas beneath the ground in an area surrounding the Ribble Estuary, and expected to create as many as 1,700 full time jobs in its efforts to extract it from as many as 40 sites across the county.

But the company's announcement has met with a cold response from environmental groups who camped out in Banks last weekend to protest its plans, arguing that the the shale gas drilling process Cuadrilla uses is unsafe and adds to carbon emissions.

Eric Vaughan, chief operations director at Cuadrilla Resources, told The Champion:

“What we're planning to do is absolutely a boost to the local economy, not only in terms of the direct jobs we create in Lancashire but also in the employment we'll create for our suppliers and contractors. We've already started hiring in Lancashire and training up employees, so that when we plan to start drilling in 2013 we'll have a workforce with the right skills and knowledge ready to begin.

”I think a lot of the concerns about fracking have been misdirected, and there's a lot of wrong information out there which people have seized upon, so it's important that we do everything as openly as possible and talk to everybody about what we're doing, which is why we speak regularly to both the borough and county councils. There are some other operators in the US who don't always follow best practice, but we can assure residents that all our operations are carried out as safely and openly as possible.“

Mr Vaughan added that while the sites would only operate for a few months at a time in a bid to minimise disruption, he said that along with creating additional jobs the company would also generate millions for local authorities across Lancashire through business rates and other levies.

He also insisted that fracking - which involves pumping water underground in a bit to fracture a subterranean layer of shale rock and extract gas trapped beneath it - was a safe process, the announcements have not been welcomed by environmental groups opposed to Cuadrilla's operations.

Friends of the Earth's north west campaigner Helen Rimmer said:

”Drilling for shale gas raises serious safety concerns and risks destroying the Lancashire countryside and polluting groundwater - and it could take vital funding away from the clean, green solutions we already know are safe and will work.

“There should be no more fracking in Britain until safety and environmental concerns have been properly addressed. Our future power needs should come from the wind, sun and waves and using our energy more carefully - this will slash emissions and boost the Lancashire economy by creating lots of new local businesses and jobs.”

Do you think fracking is a welcome boost to the region's economy or an unwanted threat to the environment? Let us know by sending an email to david.simister@champnews.com or call The Champion on 01704 392404.






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