A group of economists and a pro-shale gas pressure group are urging politicians to stop playing politics over fracking.
The North West Energy Task Force believes that politics are holding back development of the energy resource and the creation of jobs on the Fylde coast.
It said more than 20 of Britain’s top economic thinkers have backed its ambitions for the development of natural gas from deep-lying shale rock.
In an open letter in today’s Financial Times, the group called on politicians from all parties to stop using fracking as a political football or risk putting jobs, growth and tax revenue at risk.
Cuadrilla Resources is exploring the Bowland Shale area to see if gas can be extracted by hydraulic fracturing – the injection of water and chemicals under high pressure.
The Task Force believes that a developed natural gas industry will:
n Create thousands of jobs in new industries and ease pressures on UK manufacturers facing overseas competition.
n Generate sustainable export-led economic growth, based on a thriving, competitive private sector.
n Boost tax revenues for much-needed investment in local public services.
One of the people behind the letter, Roger Bootle, Managing Director of Capital Economics, said: “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 the UK. Business, industry and policy-makers must put aside their differences and get behind shale to ensure the North West becomes a new economic powerhouse.”
Professor Robert Rothschild, Professor of Economics at Lancaster University, said: “As an economist, I am confident that this new energy resource has the potential to strengthen substantially the industrial base of North West England.”
Bridget Rosewell OBE, Managing Partner at Volterra Partners, said: “Development of natural gas from shale would be an important step in meeting the UK’s future energy needs, while also enhancing Britain’s global competitiveness and a major boost to the North West.”
Professor Bob Rowthorn, Emeritus Professor of Economics at University of Cambridge, said: “Responsibly done, shale gas is offers a unique opportunity for the UK in our efforts to strengthen our energy security and tackle climate change. Evidence from the United States has shown that it has helped to correct their deficit in the balance of trade.”