A senior figure at fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources has said homes in Lancashire could be heated by shale gas as early as the beginning of next year.
Matt Lambert, the firm’s director of government and public affairs, spoke at BusinessCloud’s Lancashire Powerhouse event in Lytham on Wednesday.
He told editor Chris Maguire that there has been a great deal of “scaremongering” about the potential damage fracking does to the environment and said the opportunity to explore huge natural reserves of shale gas in the county is “too good to miss”.
The fracking process involves injecting water, sand or chemicals at high pressure into rock below ground to force open cracks and extract the gas and oil within.
“At heart it’s a safe, well-tried engineering process. In Lancashire there’s a tremendous amount of shale gas underneath the ground and an opportunity to get that out safely with limited impact on the environment,” Lambert said.
“Probably as early as the beginning of next year, we will be heating homes in Lancashire with Lancashire gas.
“We’re looking forward to finding out whether shale gas really works here in Lancashire.”
Many business figures have spoken about the opportunities fracking could bring to the local economy while Government has handed out more than 100 licences to fracking firms.
However they must also receive planning permission from local councils – and Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s proposals in 2015.
Cuadrilla went through the appeals process to press ahead with its exploration site near Blackpool.
“We had a High Court case judicial review last week where the judge essentially dismissed all the challenges to those appeals,” Lambert said.
With the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs being created in the semi-rural county, Lambert believes that more people will look favourably on the industry when it becomes operational.
“I think then people will begin to understand. They will start to see real jobs, real supply side contracts coming through and say: what was the fuss about?”
Technology has been the enabler for the industry, which now accounts for more than half of the United States’ oil output with 300,000 wells delivering 4.3 million barrels of oil a day.
“It is made possible by directional drilling which allows you to drill under the ground for several kilometres – that’s what opened up shale gas for the United States and what makes the opportunity available here,” added Lambert.
“We need to get that started here and make Lancashire a hub for the industry in Europe.”
The Lancashire Powerhouse conference was sponsored by Roundhouse Properties and was held as part of the St George’s Day Festival.