David Morris column

David Morris, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP.
David Morris, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP.

I am pleased to report that construction work has commenced on the Heysham M6 Link Road.

The work has started just weeks after the prime minister visited us here in Morecambe and Lunesdale to announce that construction of the road is going ahead.

I personally am absolutely delighted and I hope you are too. Over the coming weeks and months I will be keeping a close eye on the progress that is being made in constructing the road and will report back to you regularly via this column.

Just yesterday, the prime minister announced that millions of pounds worth of business rates will be given to local councils who give the green light to shale gas exploration. As a supporter of shale gas exploration I welcome this news.

The prime minister suggests that the commitment could be worth around £1.7m a year for a typical site. It will be directly funded by central government.

For some time, I have said that shale gas represents a huge economic opportunity for the UK, national research from the Institute of Directors shows that investment could reach £3.7bn a year and support 74,000 jobs in the oil, gas, construction, engineering and the chemicals sectors.

I have been campaigning for community benefits and the prime minister has also said that community benefits for local people will also be strengthened.

Last year, the industry announced that local communities would receive £100,000 when a test well is fracked – and a further 1% of revenues if shale gas is discovered. This could be worth £5-£10m a year for the typical site.

The industry has today confirmed it will further consult on how this money can best be shared with the local community, with options on the table including direct cash payments to people living near the site, plus the setting up of local funds directly managed by local communities.

This week I tabled a Parliamentary motion to thank Craig Smith and Simon Walsh the directors of SHP Limited, for recruiting extensively in the constituency. SHP also employs a large number of graduates from Lancaster University.