Businesses support imminent fracking plans

DRILLING SITES: Cuadrilla is poised to submit its planning applications

DRILLING SITES: Cuadrilla is poised to submit its planning applications

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Business leaders have welcomed Cuadrilla’s announcement that it is about to formally apply to drill for shale gas in Lancashire, claiming it will bring a much-needed boost to the county’s economy.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said the body wanted the shale gas industry to start “as soon as possible”.

Cuadrilla says it will apply to Lancashire County Council to explore a site off Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, within weeks.

A separate planning application for a second proposed exploration site, at Roseacre Wood will also be submitted a few weeks later.

The news is expected to bring major protests from the people opposed to fracking, who are worried about risks to the environment and nearby communities such as pollution and possible earthquakes.

But the North West Energy Task Force says it will bring a jobs boom on site and in the supply chain if allowed to proceed.

The Task Force is a coalition of over 300 businesses, economists, academics and local communities.

John Kersey, chairman of the Lancashire branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: “This is great news for NW businesses.

“As chairman of Lancashire IoD we welcome this step forward in the development of natural gas which we believe will help create jobs and boost much needed investment in our region.”

Gary Lovatt, regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “As chairman of the FSB in Lancashire and Cumbria, small businesses throughout the region should be pleased to hear this news.

“We are fully supportive of regulated and safety conscious shale gas extraction which can provide a significant boost to our region’s economy.”

Ms Murphy said: “The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce welcomes today’s news.

“We want this industry to develop as soon as possible.

“The responsible and safe development of natural gas in the NW – alongside investment in renewable technologies – will provide huge opportunities to the business community as well as providing jobs for local people.”