EAST Lancashire business leaders have welcomed the announcement that energy firm Cuadrilla will soon submit an application to commence fracking on the Fylde Coast.

Cuadrilla yesterday announced it would submit a planning application ‘before the end of the month’ to drill, frack and test the flow of gas from up to four wells in Little Plumpton.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “This application could be a really important milestone for Lancashire and the UK as we seek to unlock Lancashire’s shale gas potential.”

Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The chamber welcomes this encouraging news.

“Businesses, especially our manufacturers who are so crucial to the economy, need the development of onshore natural gas to take place in order to give them the confidence that our energy supplies are secure in the long term.

“With the parallel development of renewable technologies, as well as nuclear, natural gas will provide a significant edge against volatile imports.”

Gary Lovatt, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Lancashire, said: “Small businesses throughout the region should be pleased to hear this news.

“We are fully supportive of regulated and safety conscious shale gas extraction which can provide a significant boost to our region’s economy.”