The Peel Group has announced the launch of a new Gas and Oil business which, it states, is "looking to maximise the economic and supply chain benefits to the North of England from the emerging shale gas industry".
The company is aiming to become a "development partner...providing integrated property solutions for the industry" it adds "Peel Gas and Oil is encouraging investment in the infrastructure needed to support shale gas development in the region".
Central to Peel's plans, it appears, is Port Salford and its `Ocean Gateway' project. Last year, Peel produced a report with Amion Consulting titled Shale Gas: The Potential Impact for the North West Economy, which showed a potential of thirty fracking sites (thousands of wells) between Salford and Merseyside, the so-called Ocean Gateway area.
"We are ideally placed to become a regional hub for the industry drawing on existing assets, such as the Manchester Ship Canal and thriving ports, and the wealth of expertise businesses in the area have to offer" said Myles Kitcher, Peel Gas and Oil Managing Director "...We need to act quickly to get a thriving supply chain in place, ready to benefit from the emerging industry."
Mark Whitworth, Peel Ports CEO, added ""The development of the UK shale gas industry offers huge potential but will require a new approach to supply chain management. Capital commitment and investment in specialist equipment, infrastructure and skills is being made by Peel Ports at an early stage to ensure that we are industry-ready and taking a leadership position in preparation for the significant opportunities arising from shale gas production in the UK."
The effects of fracking on the community have been well documented, particularly surrounding the disposal of toxic waste and water from shale gas sites. Last week, John Lennon's son, Sean Lennon, reported directly to Salford people, via the Bez's Bed In protest, on what has happened in America (see Salford Star article here).
Even though surveys and petitions have shown that Salford people oppose fracking in the city, if Port Salford is central to Peel's plans it would be hard for Salford City Council to resist any shale gas activity as it has a vested interest in ensuring the success of the Port.
£31million of public subsidy has been handed to Port Salford, including a £4million grant from Salford City Council and a loan of £11million for infrastructure which is costing the Council £360,000 per year in repayments for the first five years (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
The Government's Department for Business Skills and Innovation's Regional Growth Fund is chipping in another £15million, and Europe's Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (TEN-T EA) has handed over a grant of 998,125euros for viability studies.
Meanwhile, in January, Peel was promoting itself within the fracking industry as being able to help get community consent and licenses for shale gas exploration (see here).
Also in January, Salford's Labour Party MPs refused to back a House of Commons motion for a freeze on fracking while the shale gas industry could be investigated. A similar moratorium in New York resulted in a fracking ban, after concerns for the community's safety (see here).
While Salford Labour MPs appear to be saying almost nothing about their party backing fracking, Bolton North East Labour MP David Crausby, said recently... "I think Labour's policy will be in the long run to frack, if you want the honest truth."