Doubts over fracking jobs claims as new report says 24,000 jobs in clean energy for North West

A new report from Friends of the Earth, supported by PCS Union and North West trades councils, shows that industry claims about job creation from fracking are overstated, and that any jobs boom would be short-lived. The report also shows that investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy would create more jobs than more investment in fossil fuels.

The report, titled 'Making a better job of it' finds:

• Overstated jobs claims:  the report most often quoted by the industry and its supporters claims that job creation will be over twice as high as that seen in the US, according to peer-reviewed evidence assessing how many jobs are created for a given amount of gas produced1.

• Short-term jobs, long-term risks: jobs figures quoted are peak numbers which tail off rapidly. Cuadrilla claims shale gas production would create 1,700 jobs in Lancashire but this figure is for one year only, and falls to under 200 only three years afterwards2. But local communities would face risks to the local environment and their health for many years. And despite the several years of disruption from Cuadrilla's proposed exploration at Roseacre and Preston New Road, the sites would create only 11 net jobs each.

• Renewable energy and energy efficiency are a better jobs bet: they create over six times as many jobs as gas per unit of power generated or saved, and around three times as many jobs for the same amount invested3.

• Huge potential in the North West: exploiting the region's huge renewable energy potential and saving energy in the region's homes could support another 24,000 jobs4.

Friends of the Earth's North West Campaigner Helen Rimmer said:

Drilling Rig by Meredithw via Wimimedia Commons

By Meredithw

"The North West has world-class renewable resources and investment should focus on clean energy technologies such as tidal, solar and offshore wind, and energy efficiency – which tackle climate change and create more jobs than over-hyped fracking.

"Lancashire County Council should reject Cuadrilla's fracking plans and support energy solutions which will create more jobs without risking the county's environment, local economy and communities."

Chris Baugh, Assistant General Secretary of Public and Commercial Services Union said:

"PCS welcome this important report from Friends of the Earth. We were told fracking would be a game changer driving down our energy bills, claims not even Lord Browne, Chair of Cuadrilla believes. Now we're told the dash for gas is about energy security and jobs.

"As this report shows, the arguments do not stack up in the face of the evidence and PCS is clear that investment in climate jobs – helping to reduce carbon emissions – is vital if we are to seriously address interrelated economic, energy and environmental concerns.

"Development of the region's abundant renewable energy sources and energy efficiency programmes will create better and greater employment opportunities than this literal race to the bottom for shale.  Trade unions need to play a central role if we are to make a just transition to clean energy sources that protect both the jobs and livelihood of working people and the planet we inhabit."

Dave Savage, Organiser from Preston and South Ribble Trades Union Council, said:

"Fracking is yet another example of environmentally-destructive profiteering by private sector energy companies looking for short-term profits.

"In contrast, by building in our own country world-leading industries in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we can both make our contribution to preserving the environment for future generations, at the same time as developing sustainable jobs now and for the future."

Ian Gallagher, Secretary of Blackburn and District Trades Union Council, said:

"Blackburn and District Trades Union Council welcomes this timely report.  We believe that investment in the areas identified by the Million Climate Jobs Campaign – in renewable energy sources and in insulating and retrofitting existing homes and buildings – is a far more certain way of addressing both climate change and economic growth than drilling for shale gas."

Peter Thorne, Secretary of North East Lancashire Trades Union Council, said:

"North East Lancs TUC notes that 2014 was the warmest year ever and Arctic ice melt is greater every year – the evidence of climate change is irrefutable. We must leave fossil fuels in the ground and develop renewables which can also provide far more jobs. For this reason we are totally opposed to fracking anywhere.

"Barrow in Furness has shown the way for the North West, being a world leading centre for offshore wind turbines. There is no reason why Lancashire can't also become a leading centre for wind, wave and solar technology and create far more and better jobs than fracking ever would."

Clara Paillard Green Representative on Merseyside Trade Union Council said:

"We urgently need to move away from a fossil fuel economy and Merseyside and the North West region has huge potential for clean energy. Fracking is not a risk worth taking for our climate, communities or workers' health."

Stephen Hall President of Association of Greater Manchester Trade Union Councils said:

"The fracking industry has overstated how many jobs it will create, and the North West will get short-term jobs and long-term impacts. Instead of a fracking dead-end we need investment in the clean energy of the future, which could create many thousands of new jobs for workers across Greater Manchester and tackle climate change at the same time."

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