Fracking for shale gas could prompt a gold rush that will turn northern towns like Blackpool into British equivalents of oil-rich communities in the Middle East, a Cabinet minister has claimed.
Business and energy minister Matthew Hancock revealed that the Government is preparing to announce plans for a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ to hold the revenues from fracking for the north of England.
Such state-owned funds have been set up in the Middle East and Norway to generate huge sums from the proceeds of oil and gas exploration.
Minister Matthew Hancock said the Government has plans for a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ to hold the revenues from fracking for the north of England
They invest in assets such as stocks, property, infrastructure and precious metals, with proceeds able to fund public spending. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to unveil details of a fund in his autumn statement next month.
Mr Hancock will also today announce the creation of a new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, based in Blackpool with offshoots in Chester, Portsmouth, Redcar and Strathclyde.
It will train school leavers and graduates in fracking technology, enabling them to win lucrative jobs in the industry.
Ministers believe fracking could herald an energy revolution that will boost the economy, make Britain more self-sufficient and bring down sky-high bills from greedy energy firms. The Treasury has offered generous tax breaks to kickstart the technology.
Scientists say the UK is potentially sitting on shale deposits filled with enough gas to supply the whole country for at least 40 years – a discovery that could see a repeat of the North Sea oil boom.