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Monday, 24 September 2012 (3030878)
Fracking could boost local economy, claim
by David Simister

FRACKING could provide a welcome boost to the West Lancashire economy, a group representing the nation's engineers has said this week.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers has said that while shale gas drilling, commonly known as ‘fracking' would not provide a silver bullet to the UK's energy problems, the work of companies such as Cuadrilla would help to provide long term economic benefits, with as many as 1,300 jobs being created each year.

Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Shale gas has the potential to give Lancashire, one of the regions hit hardest by the economic downturn, a much-needed economic boost. The engineering jobs created will also help to revive the north-west’s engineering heritage and rebalance the UK’s skewed economy.

”UK shale gas could make a helpful contribution to the UK’s energy security for the next two centuries, but it is not the silver bullet many claim it is. It is unlikely to have a major impact on energy prices and the possibility that the UK might ever achieve self-sufficiency in gas is remote.“

Cuadrilla, which operates a shale gas exploration site near Hesketh Bank, welcomed the group's findings, and said it was a number of independent assessments which noted the economic benefits fracking could bring to the region.

Francis Egan, Chief Executive of Cuadrilla Resources, said: ”For some time Cuadrilla has been working alongside other local employers, academics and local authorities in the Fylde Coast to plan for potential future skills requirements and we are committed to ensuring that local people are given the chance to train for and then take up the skilled jobs that we hope to create with a move to gas production.“

”We remain focussed on the engineering challenges of exploring the distinctive geological potential of the Bowland formation, and demonstrating to regulators and Lancashire’s communities that shale in the UK can set a world standard producing onshore gas safely and sensibly.“

However, concern over the potential enviromental impact of shale gas drilling has prompted the World Wildlife Foundation, Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to write a joint letter to the Government, calling for a moratorium on fracking so that the potential risks of the practice can be properly assessed.

Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth Executive Director, said: ”The Government must halt shale gas drilling to properly assess the risks – including the impact on climate change. With big changes to our electricity system due in the months ahead, Energy Secretary Ed Davey must resist calls to hook the nation on polluting gas that has been the main drive of rising energy bills, and instead back a switch to home-grown clean energy.

“Britain has some of the best wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe – developing them will bring in investment and create thousands of jobs.”


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