The county which grew up in the cotton and textiles boom of the Industrial Revolution more than two centuries ago is now struggling to keep hold of its workers.
With a population of more than 1.4 million, Lancashire’s growth rate has “failed to keep pace” with the national average according to the county council, mainly because of some high net migration recorded by some Lancashire authorities.
Though it’s a mixed picture in different parts of Lancashire, with some places swelling while others suffer long-term decline, the county’s challenge is clear.
In the face of this conundrum, some businesses are turning to shale gas as possible saviour for jobs and an economic boost.
Shale gas developers such as Cuadrilla Resources and IGas have high hopes for the huge reserves of gas trapped in the Bowland shale rock, which stretches underground from west to east across the neck of northern England.
The chance for northern businesses to be a part of their shale gas supply chain – from making steel parts to environmental services – was laid out for local and international companies at a conference last week in Blackpool.
Opportunities were writ large for businessmen from two firms who told ELN it didn’t matter if a business was big or small.
Simon Talbot, Managing Director of consultancy Ground – Gas Solutions said: “We believe if the UK shale gas sector took off, on the environmental monitoring side it would be worth £20 million.”
Malcolm James, Director for Oil and Gas Business Development at Dow Chemicals which has 12 sites in the UK ranging from Newcastle to West Yorkshire added: “If everything works out we will have an opportunity to invest in the use of gas as a feedstock or an energy source for our own plants in Europe.”
Mr James added that a stable price for gas is essential or business becomes “uncompetitive”.
The conference came the same day as a new report estimated £33 billion could be plunged into UK shale gas to get wells going.