Blackpool MP blasts frack bid near resort

A fracking rig  similar to the ones Cuadrilla would like to use at Preston New Road
A fracking rig similar to the ones Cuadrilla would like to use at Preston New Road
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Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has hit out at planners who have said fracking should go ahead at one site near the resort.

Mr Marsden said he is concerned that a shale gas drilling site in a prominent position would damage the image of Blackpool for tourists.

Gordon Marsden

Gordon Marsden

Tourism is by far the biggest employer in the town and although fracking may generate a home-grown supply of gas and much-needed jobs, he was concerned that those benefits may be out-weighed by the negatives.

And he also questioned whether the regulatory and monitoring regime around shale gas extraction was strong enough.

He said: “I am really surprised because I have looked carefully at what was said when the planning officers originally knocked this back.

“I can see very little to explain why they have been so easily convinced that what they said previously in regard to noise and other factors should be over turned.

“In terms of Blackpool, Preston New Road is an important route into Blackpool for both visitors and residents, and the potential for disruption and the impact of seeing a fracking rig which many people will regard as a blot on the landscape is a concern.

“This is an issue for us in Blackpool in terms of the potential negatives for tourism, apart from environmental and other concerns.

“I hope Lancashire councillors will question it very vigorously.

“They should also take note of so-called safeguards put in by the government which are inadequate.”

However, the chief executive of North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce Babs Murphy said shale gas offered ‘enormous potential’ for Lancashire.

Lancashire County Council planning officials have recommended that energy firm Cuadrilla’s proposal to frack at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton are given the go ahead when councillors look into the proposal next Tuesday at County Hall.

A proposal to frack at Roseacre Wood near Elswick was recommended for refusal on traffic impact grounds.

Babs Murphy, a member of the North West Energy Taskforce, said: “Shale gas represents a huge economic opportunity for Lancashire firms not only in terms of winning new business but also creating new jobs and generating new market opportunities.

“If Cuadrilla is successful in obtaining the relevant permissions for the Preston New Road exploration programme, opportunities for local suppliers are likely to start at a modest level, but the scale of this could soon expand if results from the test wells are positive and the company seeks to move to natural gas production in the county.

“It is up to all of us to work together to keep as much of these economic opportunities here in Lancashire.”