Fracking will boost the Lancashire economy say majority of businesses in ComRes survey
Lancashire’s business decision-makers are more than twice as likely to think that the development of a shale gas industry in the county would have a positive impact (53%) on the local economy as a negative (22%), according to an independent survey undertaken by ComRes on behalf of the North West Energy Task Force, a coalition of businesses, farmers, academics and local members of the community.
The recent survey of 500 Lancashire companies, which was weighted to be representative of businesses in the county by size, comes as the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is due to present its case for the development of shale gas in the county at the appeals inquiry tomorrow in Blackpool.
The poll – which is the largest publicly available survey of Lancashire businesses to have been published on the issue of fracking in the county – also found the following:
Lancashire’s businesses decision-makers are generally positive about the impact of the development of a shale gas in Lancashire on different aspects of the county’s economy, including the number of skilled jobs (66%), business opportunities (56%) and the size of the local economy (54%)
A third (32%) of Lancashire’s business decision-makers say the benefit they would most like to see from a shale gas industry is giving priority for any new jobs created to local residents. More than half (58%) rank this in their top two priorities
Lancashire business decision-makers’ preferences for tax revenue from locally developed shale gas reflect environmental priorities, with the preservation of the local environment seen as the most important goal (36% rank this as the area that should receive the most benefit)
More than three in five agree that “the UK should prioritise the production of domestic gas from shale over importing natural gas from overseas” (63%)
56% of Lancashire’s businesses surveyed also believe that using natural gas in the medium term instead of coal “is the most efficient way for the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Katharine Peacock, Managing Director of ComRes, said: “A clear majority of Lancashire businesses view the potential development of a shale gas industry in the county as positive for the local economy and for skilled jobs and business opportunities available in the area.
“And there is perceived to be a need to develop this industry – businesses would like to see domestic shale gas production prioritised over imports, and more than half agree that using natural gas in the medium term rather than coal is the most efficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“But the business community are keen to see real benefits for the local area from a shale gas industry in Lancashire– prioritising local residents for new jobs created and industry taxes going to preserve the local environment.”
Claire Smith, a local hotelier and President of StayBlackpool, which represents over 200 local B&Bs and hotels in Blackpool, said: “This independent poll clearly shows that a majority of Lancashire’s wealth and job creators believe that a thriving shale gas sector would be good for our local economy. Local businesses, who are on the front-line of ensuring our economy thrives, see the huge benefits that Lancashire-based shale gas sector could bring. But the tangible benefits of a prosperous and responsibly developed shale gas sector go beyond the local economy. They also
include the reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced energy security in the long-term.”
ComRes surveyed 500 business decision makers in Lancashire by telephone between 18th January and 4th February 2016. Data were weighted to be representative of businesses in Lancashire by business size. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data and tables are available on their website.
“This independent poll clearly shows that a majority of Lancashire’s wealth and job creators believe that a thriving shale gas sector would be good for our local economy.”
Claire Smith, President of StayBlackpool