Momentum builds for energy task force

More than 100 businesses have backed a call to action from the newly-formed North West Energy Task Force, challenging industry and policy makers to get behind shale, to boost 'once in a lifetime' opportunities for skills and jobs in the region.

North West Energy Task ForceIn a letter to the Blackpool Gazette, the new group, led by 10 North West-based business leaders warned: “thousands of British jobs and much-needed investment in the UK are at risk from more competitive overseas economies”.

The business people believe the responsible development of natural gas from shale in the North West of England could: create thousands of jobs in new industries and ease pressures facing UK manufacturers as they continue to be challenged by more competitive overseas economies; generate sustainable export-led economic growth, based on a thriving, competitive private sector; and boost tax revenues for much-needed investment in the North West region’s public services.

John Kersey, Preston-based entrepreneur and spokesman for the Task Force, said: “The exploration and potential for development of natural gas from shale presents a once in a generation opportunity to harness the benefits that a new supply of gas could create in terms of jobs and encouraging investment in our region.

"We call on business, industry and policy-makers to get behind shale to ensure the North West is in the best possible position to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”

Mike Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am pleased to support an initiative that, subject to proper safeguards, will help our region and communities to maximise the economic benefits of this unique opportunity. As an area that depends on its industry, we all need to appreciate the potential that Bowland shale represents.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Done safely and responsibly, we welcome the development of natural gas from Lancashire’s shale and the potentially fantastic opportunity it means for North West job and wealth creators as well as local communities. We believe that the development would be an important step in meeting the UK’s future energy needs while also providing a major boost to the local and national economy.”

Sean Lord, director of Lytham Technology added: “As a local businessman and resident, I’m confident that when you mix significant new energy resources with the North West’s existing skill base and entrepreneurial drive it will unleash a new era of growth for our region.”