Lancashire For Shale held a very successful briefing to an audience of interested parties, on the benefits of how shale gas and tourism can grow together to create more jobs.
The event included four speakers, a short Q and A session and highlighted that Lancashire has a vibrant tourism and hospitality sector, but its very nature means that work is seasonal. A thriving shale gas industry in the county will help boost occupancy rates year-round and lead to increased spending in the wider hospitality economy.
Another major conclusion from the presentations was that, if the UK follows a similar pattern to what happened in the development of the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale basin in America, we could see circa 1,332 new jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, created in the Fylde and surrounding areas, when shale gas extraction commences. Overall, the UK shale gas industry could one day be responsible for over 64,500 jobs at peak and a supply chain spend of over £33 billion.
The first speaker, Blackpool hotelier, Claire Smith, added: “I firmly believe that shale gas will be good for the local tourism and hospitality sector. Ours is a seasonal industry, with occupancy rates that plunge over the winter. A shale gas industry on our doorstep could provide a steady stream of people needing accommodation all-year-round, just like we saw during the construction of the new Blackpool sea defences.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla followed and emphasised that: “It was wonderful to see so many local people representing Blackpool’s tourism industry and for them to hear first-hand how a shale gas industry in Lancashire would help grow their sector.
“It will be a proud moment for us and the county, when next year Lancashire gas flows into Lancashire homes as a result of operations by a Lancashire business, employing local people, with the support of local suppliers.”
The meeting then watched a video link with Tom Shepstone, a planning consultant from Pennsylvania, who explained how shale gas has been a boom for tourism in Bradford County in the heart of the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania.
He cited in evidence, a report titled ‘The Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism in Pennsylvania’, prepared by the highly regarded Oxford Economics. It stated that:” Tourism spending is up 65% in Bradford since shale gas development began in earnest in 2009. That compares to 23% for the Commonwealth as a whole. Likewise, tourism related employment was up 31% in Bradford County as compared to 7% state-wide. There’s no doubt about it: fracking and tourism can grow side-by-side.”
Final speaker was Vale of Pickering B&B owner, Lorraine Allanson who observed: “North Yorkshire already has an established onshore gas industry in the Vale of Pickering, although you’d hardly know it was there—even though it’s currently the UK’s largest onshore gas field!! When a new well was being drilled near the village of Kirby Misperton in 2013, the drilling contractor spent over £2.3 million in the local economy. I benefited since I hosted some of the workers at my B&B, so I’ve heard it all before from opponents of shale gas but my experience is that the potential risks can be overstated.