Fracking: Businesses urge Lancashire County Council to back plans

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Image caption Lancashire County Council will be asked to approve drilling in two sites at the end of the month

More than 100 local businesses have asked Lancashire County Council to approve fracking at two sites.

The companies, members of the North West Energy Task Force (NWETF), made the call in an open letter to Lancashire County Council.

They claim shale gas extraction will create thousands of jobs in the region and improve local wages.

But anti-fracking campaigners said the oil and gas industry has consistently "hyped up" such economic benefits.

The businesses said a recent poll by the Lancashire Evening Post showed 57% of people in the county approve of fracking, adding: "It is time to give shale a chance."

"Tangible benefits are already being felt with the government announcement for a new £10m national energy college based in Blackpool - allowing for the training of the next generation of highly-skilled workers in our region," the letter added.

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The 120 signatories include small, medium and large companies ranging from an antiques shop to a seafood processing company. They also number the body representing Blackpool's hoteliers and the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

The NWETF is backed by Centrica Energy and Cuadrilla Resources but says its activities and views are independent of its financial supporters.

But a spokesman for Residents' Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) said: "The oil and gas industry has a track record of over-claiming the jobs it creates, it is a boom-and-bust industry and any jobs created jobs will be relatively short-term, and these hyped-up figures are based on a scenario of thousands of fracking wells in Lancashire which would wreck our precious countryside."

He added: "The only jobs created by the investment in the Blackpool and Fylde College will be for a few instructors/lecturers, which again will be short term."

The spokesman said face-to-face polling in Lancashire had found 10,000 people objecting to fracking.

Lancashire County Council will consider an application on 28 and 29 January by energy firm Cuadrilla to drill, frack and test at two sites in Little Plumpton and Roseacre.

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