Fracking hell – the PR machine is rolling

A flood of PR pieces in the ‘serious’ press this morning about Blackpool’s prospect of becoming the Dallas of the North care of fracking – the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock by injecting chemicals and fracturing it (fracking). You can find them in the Torygraph (probably the worst example), the Indy, the Guardian (probably the most balanced effort) and even the WSJ.

While there’s much talk of prosperity and the Aberdeen effect – and God knows the town needs it – what Blackpool doesn’t need is drinking water that goes up in flames, or another round of earthquakes. While jobs are welcome – invaluable, indeed – they can’t come ay any price. This kind of high-profile PR offensive shouldn’t be allowed to gloss over the risks of fracking. Until some of the questions are answered, Blackpool needs to keep the door ajar – if not quite closed – on fracking.

One final point; the gas fields in Morecambe Bay have been pumping out their produce since the mid-80s. Just when does Morecambe get its Aberdeen effect?


Here come the new seats (same as the old seats)

Details have emerged (care of Guido Fawkes – see, he ain’t all bad, even if he has blocked me on Twitter) of the boundaries review which follows the coalition’s decision to get rid of 50 mps.

There’s a midnight media embargo on it, but it’s midnight where I am, so here’s an early look at how it lines up in Lancashire.

In Blackpool, it’s a case of back to the future – Blackpool South and Blackpool North and Fleetwood will be pretty much as they were from 1997 to 2010.

Fylde gets Poulton-le-Fylde, which strengthens its Tory credentials even further, while Lancaster inhertits much of rural Wyre – again, just as it did before the last review, as well as a few Trough of Bowland towns, including Chipping and Ribchester, which have about as much in common with Lancaster as Fleetwood did. Morecambe and Lunesdale stays much as it ever did, with a bit more Lune Valley added in for good measure.

Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire stay much as they were before 2010.

In east Lancs, it all starts getting a bit more bizarre and unfamiliar. While Blackburn stays largely the same, Rossendale and Darwen is squeezed into Darwen and Haslingden, with Rochdale North and Rawtenstall taking the rest (and knocking a few grand off property values in the leafy Rossendale valley, no doubt).

Burnley is split down the middle, with half of it joining with Accrington and the other merging with Pendle. The fag end of Pendle becomes part of a Ribble Valley mega-seat, stretching from the Yorkshire border to the edge of Preston.

But even that doesn’t compare to the megaseat of Penrith and Kendal which stretches, in the commission’s own words, ‘From the outskirts of Carlisle to the Lancashire border.’

The consultation excercise will continue until 2013, after which you’ll see an epic bunfight between existing Tory MPs, not many of whom are ready for the knackers yard just yet, for the choicest morsels.