Yorkshire could feel North Sea oil effect from gas extraction

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SHALE gas extraction could provide a boost for Yorkshire’s economy similar to that experienced in Aberdeen after the discovery of North Sea oil, according to a lawyer who specialises in energy.

Gary Sector, the legal director of Addleshaw Goddard, believes that parts of Yorkshire could enjoy a “Shetland Island effect” with new sports and community halls being built in areas where extraction is taking place.

Mr Sector made his comments as part of the Yorkshire Post’s Big Debate on fracking, which is taking place in the newspaper, online, in social media and at a public meeting. Mr Sector said manufacturers involved in the oil and gas sector could get healthy returns if they join the supply chain needed to establish well heads and ensure gas deposits reach the grid.

He added: “Without even taking into account the new jobs which the industry may create in Yorkshire, a far wider ripple down effect could benefit the Yorkshire economy as a whole, akin to that seen in Aberdeen with North Sea Oil.”

Professor Christopher Bovis, professor of international and European business law at Hull University Business School, said he believed that “significant amounts” of specialised and highly paid jobs could be created if Yorkshire firms become part of the supply chain for shale gas extraction. The hospitality industry is also expected to benefit from shale gas exploration, Professor Bovis said.

However, he added: “The Yorkshire consumer will not directly or indirectly benefit from any shale gas extracted from the region. The energy market, especially the gas market, is not country-specific. It is region-specific and in our case it is EU-wide.”

Andy Tüscher, EEF regional director for the North, who represents manufacturing firms, said: “There is a real concern that any benefits of shale gas in the UK are years off, and I would urge the Government to urgently address rising green levies on energy bills that are making the UK increasingly uncompetitive... Naturally, if fracking was to become a reality, then our local supply base of high value engineering would be able to support the industry.”

Jonathan Oxley, the chairman of the West Yorkshire branch of the Institute of Directors, said: “Fracking will not alter the landscape as onshore wells are not intrusive. As far as the Yorkshire landscape goes, you could argue it’s a better solution than wind farms.”

Mark Goldstone, the head of Business Representation and Policy at Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said hydraulic fracking had made a significant impact in the US, although not without controversy.

He added: “Of course, the US and Britain are very different, countries both in terms of size and scale, and it remains to be seen if the benefits are replicable.

“It is certainly worthy of further investigation.”

Steven Leigh, head of policy and representation at Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “While there is enormous potential for securing long-term gas supplies, clearly there will need to be further assurances over safety, environmental impacts, and access rights before fracking could enjoy full public support.”

• Professor Christopher Bovis will be joining the panel for the Yorkshire Post’s public debate on fracking. The event will be held on February 12 at the Cedar Court Grand Hotel in York and will start at 6pm. The panel will also include Mark Hill, head of development management at the North York Moors National Park Authority, Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, and Friends of the Earth.

If you would like to attend please email the editor’s secretary at Jayne.Lownsbrough@jpress.co.uk.

Please include your name and a contact telephone number and a question you would like to ask as part of the debate.

Please also put fracking debate in the email header. Alternatively, please write to Jayne Lownsbrough, Editor’s Secretary, Fracking debate, Yorkshire Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Space is limited so please let us know if you would like to attend as soon as possible.