A key economic group has reaffirmed its support for the shale gas industry on the eve of a public inquiry into controversial plans to allowing fracking in Lancashire.
The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership voiced its backing for a safe and well-regulated shale gas industry in its new transport prospectus.
A public inquiry into Lancashire County Council’s refusal to allow fracking at two sites in the county gets under way in Blackpool today.
Cuadrilla wants to drill at sites in Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, and at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.
The company has appealed against the county council decisions.
In its transport document, the LEP talks of the county’s economic strengths via aerospace and engineering, and energy and other sectors.
It adds: “Lancashire has potentially one of the largest reserves of shale gas in Europe.
“The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership believes that, subject to regulatory confirmations, the shale gas sector can play an important role in contributing to economic growth in Lancashire.”
Fracking is a controversial process and has brought massive opposition from the public.
But Government and other groups like the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and the North West Energy Task Force say the industry should be given a chance.
Opponents claim fracking can cause earth tremors, water pollution and traffic problems.
But many business people feel the industry could give a massive boost to the Lancashire economy.
The LEP’s comments came as it set out a major transport strategy document aimed at playing a key part in the Northern Powerhouse of the future. That includes making Preston railway station “HS2 ready.”
Key figures on the LEP include Coun Jennifer Mein, county council leader, and Booths supermarket chain chairman Edwin Booth.
A spokesman for the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “It’s pleasing to note that there remains support from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership for the shale gas industry.”