Lobby group for Lancashire fracking ‘mostly’ made up of firms outside the area

Reuters / Stringer
The North West Energy Task Force, a major lobby group created to make a business case for fracking in Lancashire, consists mainly of firms located outside the county, an investigation by Greenpeace has found.

The North West Energy Task Force, a major lobby group created to make a business case for fracking in Lancashire, consists mainly of firms located outside the county, an investigation by Greenpeace has found.

The analysis by Greenpeace has shown that of the 343 small businesses that allegedly support fracking in Lancashire’s Fylde area, only 149 of them are actually based in Lancashire, the Independent reported.

Several small firms also appear to have signed up as supporters of fracking multiple times in order to get the numbers up. Supporters include a care home for the elderly in Yorkshire, a fishing resort in Wales, and a sheet music and song book shop in Manchester.

Only 14 companies actually come from the area of Lancashire, where the hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is due to take place.

The North West Energy Group Task Force receives funding from the main shale gas developers in Britain, Caudrilla and Centrica (the owner of British Gas). Both companies aim to exploit as much shale gas in the UK as possible.

READ MORE: Activists occupy UK govt building over heavily-redacted fracking report

A spokesman for the North West Energy Task Force defended the findings and said that fracking would benefit people throughout the region and the country.

“We believe it will benefit the North-west region. We think the positive impacts will be felt far and wide, including by B&B owners in Blackpool, fertilizer producers in Cheshire and professional service companies in Manchester,” he told The Independent. He also pointed out that the anti-fracking lobby in the UK lobbies for support from as far afield as Canada and the US, so “their complaint smacks of hypocrisy.”

But Greenpeace said the findings show how desperate the fracking lobby is, in the face of overwhelming local opposition.

“This is another example of smoke and mirrors from a fracking lobby that has form in talking up its numbers. What’s clear is that Cuadrilla is having to look outside Lancashire to drum up support for an industry which the majority of local people would rather see the back of,” said Liz Stanton of Greenpeace Preston.

READ MORE: Ex-Environment Agency boss ‘hugely skeptical’ about UK shale oil

Cuadrilla Resources was first given permission to begin exploration for shale gas in Lancashire in 2007. But drilling was stopped in 2011 because seismic activity from the fracking operation was damaging the production zone. An application by Caudrilla to continue fracking in the area is currently being considered by Lancashire County Council.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace appealed to the Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's transparency watchdog, over the government's “repeated refusal” to publish the full version of a highly redacted report into the negative impacts of fracking.

Greenpeace’s appeal follows numerous protests by campaigners from Reclaim the Power who have occupied government buildings and helped mobilize public support against fracking across the country.

The Scottish government has declared a moratorium on fracking developments north of the border until further notice.