More than 100 Lancashire business leaders took part in a supporters rally at Fylde Rugby Club ahead of the upcoming public inquiry into the shale gas sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre.
The reception featured delegates from the North West Energy Task Force, a coalition of more than 500 businesses and academics, and signatories to the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce supply chain portal for shale gas operators in Lancashire.
I’ve always said that if shale gas can be developed responsibly it could be really good for the area
Both groups believe that natural gas from shale could create up to 64,500 jobs and generate a £33bn supply chain to the UK economy.
Also at the event was Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, which recently moved its headquarters to Lancashire. He said he was “hugely appreciative” of the “overwhelming levels of support” from local businesses over the past two years.
Lee Petts, managing director at Preston-based Remsol and who was recently appointed chairman of the Lancashire branch of the Institute of Directors, said: “The development of a shale gas industry here could one day play a major role in strengthening the local economy by boosting opportunities, jobs and investment.”
Claire Smith, president of StayBlackpool, said: “I’ve always said that if shale gas can be developed responsibly it could be really good for the area. It is no secret that in parts of Lancashire there are some real social and economic problems – so a new industry providing sustainable employment and investment could be a real boost.”