Nearly 30 big name manufacturers have signed a letter urging the government to ease restrictions on shale gas and allow drilling to begin in Lancashire.
The group– collectively employing over 45,000 workers between them – signed a letter on the 29th October calling on politicians to support industry by getting behind Lancashire’s natural gas from shale possibilities.
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Their support for shale gas comes as a new policy paper is published today by the North West Energy Task Force, which says that natural gas from UK shale could lead to cheaper, more reliable energy and a new £34 billion supply chain.
The call comes days after politicians and power companies had to scramble to assure the public that Britain’s energy needs would be safe through the winter, and there would not be power outages due to high demand.
The paper will be unveiled today at the East Lancashire Chambers of Commerce’s Lancashire Manufacturers Conference.
Debbie Baker, head of public affairs for GrowHow, the UK’s only remaining primary nitrogen fertiliser producer and a signatory of the letter, said: “Gas is our primary raw material. It is the single biggest factor in determining our viability as a business.”
Marcus Addison, managing director of Addison Group, a Lancashire-based group of specialist engineering firms employing over 250, said: “From a jobs and investment perspective development of Lancashire’s onshore natural gas makes complete sense. As we have seen in the United States, simply having access to reliable sources of energy has helped lead to a renaissance in America’s industrial heartlands.”
The 28 manufacturers join a group of over 450, including scientists, economists and businesses which calls for the development of the North West region’s energy supplies, including shale gas and renewables to boost growth, investment and skilled jobs in the regional economy.
The decision to grant licenses for shale gas exploration led to protests and arrest in other parts of the country earlier this year.
The letter points to warnings from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change earlier this year, which said that UK manufacturing was at risk from cheaper energy prices in the United States.
Research carried out by the TUC, which found that more than 800,000 people work in energy intensive industries and their supply chains, contributing £95 billion to the UK economy, proves the manufacturers say that “As a manufacturing hub employing over 320,000 people, the North West stands to gain the most from a new and thriving onshore energy industry in its region.”
Mike Damms, chairman of the Lancashire Manufacturing Group and chief executive of the East Lancashire Chambers of Commerce, said: “manufacturers need greater assurance on energy supplies. Shale gas can play an important part in providing that guarantee.”
The NWETF policy paper ‘What does shale extraction mean for manufacturing in the North West’ can be found here.