Fracking firm Cuadrilla pledges 'commitment to Lancashire'
The company behind the UK's first horizontal fracking operation has announced six "commitments" which it claims will ensure Lancashire benefits.
Cuadrilla's plans for fracking at its Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton were approved in October.
The firm says it will put Lancashire first for creating jobs, new skills, investment, and community initiatives.
Opponents said they were surprised by the news since a legal challenge to the government's decision is outstanding.
Preston New Road Action Group issued formal legal proceedings at the High Court in November.
- Increase energy security for Lancashire and Britain
- Carry out our operations to the highest safety and environmental standards and communicate openly
- Work with local partners to promote Lancashire as a hub for the UK shale gas industry with new jobs and economic growth
- Prioritise Lancashire suppliers and publish the amount we are spending
- Support local training opportunities for young people including the National Onshore Oil and Gas College based at Blackpool & The Fylde College
- Share the benefits of shale gas by sponsoring educational and sporting projects and through a local community benefit scheme
Cuadrilla said an "independently audited tracker" will monitor its pledges to Lancashire.
Chief executive Francis Egan said the shale gas industry would be good for the county's economy.
"We expect that in the exploration phase alone we will spend in the order of £50m - clearly all of that will not go to Lancashire... but we would hope that up to half of that money could get spent in Lancashire," he said.
The firm also said Bolton-based civil engineering firm AE Yates Ltd has been awarded the site's £1.5m building contract.
Work is expected to start early next year, Cuadrilla said.