GUEST COLUMN FOR LANCASHIRE EVENING POST ON THE FUTURE OF ENERGY IN LANCASHIRE

A NEW era of British energy production is upon us and I’m proud to say that Lancashire stands at the very heart of it.

With an increasing global commitment to reducing carbon emissions and an expected reduction in the use of fossil fuels over the coming decades, new power sources are needed to run our homes, our businesses, our transport; indeed our whole society.

And Lancashire, with its diverse sources of energy production, can certainly make a huge contribution to that need.

Vitally to the locally economy too, energy has created and will continue to create, hundreds of jobs across the region.

In my constituency of Fylde there are a number of energy producers.

The  biggest is, of course, Springfields in Salwick, which produces fuel for the nuclear industry, stands on the cusp of something huge.

Their owners, Westinghouse, are one two companies in the running to build some of the new nuclear reactors being planned to help meet the nation’s power demands.

If their reactor design is successful, that puts Fylde in the box seat to supply the fuel for those reactors, helping to maintain local jobs.

We’ve also seen a Fylde farmer take the revolutionary step of turning his farm into an anaerobic digestion plant – using biodegradable material like maize to create energy – and the exploration of a site using a revolutionary new method to extract natural gas from below ground.

Elsewhere in Lancashire, Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry MP recently opened a new wind turbine at Dewlay Cheese Factory in Garstang and I know harnessing tidal energy is also being explored on the Wyre Estuary.

Out at Morecambe Bay too the exploration of natural gas has long been underway and permission for wind turbine sites off Cleveleys and Walney Island is also encouraging.

There are numerous other examples across the region.

Renewables versus nuclear and which form of energy can best meet Britain’s future needs is a long-running debate.

But it’s pleasing to see Lancashire, like the Government, embracing both and I hope we can continue to do so.

Mark Menzies was recently appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State in the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

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