Global leaders in the shale gas debate gathered in Preston to discuss the economic and environmental benefits it can bring to the region.
The event comes just days into Lancashire County Council’s public inquiry into two proposed sites in Fylde; its prestigious line up included Steven Tindale, the former executive director of Greenpeace who said: "Natural gas has an important role to play in tackling climate change by substituting for much dirtier coal in electricity generation. If we're going to continue using gas, then it's better to produce our own rather than import Liquefied Natural Gas from places like Qatar because that has a higher carbon footprint.
"UK shale gas can be part of the gas mix, provided it is well regulated."
Steven’s comments come just months after his September 2015 Green Alliance report in which he stated that, provided fracking is well regulated to minimise emissions of methane, it does not result in higher emissions than conventional gas extraction does.
Another high profile contributor was Kathryn Klaber of The Klaber Group and founder and former CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition in Pennsylvania. She joined by WebEx live from the US to share her observations about how the supply chain developed around onshore shale development there. “The active engagement of local businesses in the shale supply chain represented one of the most important aspects of developing the Marcellus basin.
“These local companies found new markets for their products and services close to home, they were trusted community advocates of safe development of the resource, and they helped the industry leaders quickly adapt to the many nuances of operating in a new geography.”
The event was hosted by the Institute of Directors Lancashire branch at Preston Minster and in attendance was both the IoD’s energy policy director Dan Lewis and Lancashire branch chair Lee Petts who said: “The potential of this industry in Lancashire is vast and those around the debate are well aware of the economic merits, but what fascinated guests here was the advocacy of a former Greenpeace director and the possible environmental gains to be had.
“It’s the lesser discussed element and something I believe we should bring more into the narrative.”
The IoD’s stance on the topic was last published as part of a 2013 report which cited that shale gas development could create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce imports, generate significant tax revenue and support British manufacturing. Reinforcing that stance, Dan Lewis concluded: “Findings continue to indicate the positive environmental and economic benefits – including the creation of 74,000 jobs. What we have heard tonight, especially from US experts in this field who are already underway with extraction programmes, seems to reinforce that opinion.”