MEP: Fracked gas is the new coal

Demonstration: Campaigners outside County Hall last Friday protesting against fracking
Demonstration: Campaigners outside County Hall last Friday protesting against fracking

A North West Euro MP says Lancashire should remember its history when debating fracking and recognise the new process is a continuation of its mining heritage.

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat MEP for the region, says he is confident European law will provide the necessary protections to ensure fracking does not pollute the region’s environment.

He said: “I think the wealth of Lancashire was built in part on the resources beneath the ground. We’re going to be using gas for many many decades to come. I don’t see any justification for turning our back on a resource beneath our feet.”

He said this was particularly important given the UK now imports so much gas and that fracked gas has the potential to bring energy prices down. Citing how fracking had affected the American energy market, he said: “We can’t not be aware of the way energy prices are falling in the U.S.”

Reaction to last week’s Government announcement giving the go-ahead for the resumption of shale gas exploration has also come from Councillor Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Council.

He said: “We are confident the appropriate monitoring will be undertaken by regulatory bodies, including the Environment Agency and the HSE ... we will await with interest a final decision on what happens beyond that.

“Should long-term extraction be granted and fracking subsequently becomes an industry on the Fylde coast, we will certainly be seeking to maximise benefits for our local communities, particularly employment.”

Coun Gibson added: “We are also aware that in other European countries where new kinds of energy production have been established, community funds for the surrounding areas have become the norm. We will also be seeking assurances from the Government that our communities will benefit in a similar way.”

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw called for the creation of a Community Compensation Fund.

He said: “Protection of residents and the environment continues to be of paramount importance and I will be keeping in close touch with Department of Energy and Climate Change, Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, as well as the energy companies drilling in Lancashire, to ensure concerns and risks continue to be properly assessed and acted upon.”