Fracking created an American boom town

Fracking is a controversial subject in the North West.
Fracking is a controversial subject in the North West.

A decade ago the community of Williston, North Dakota, was on the verge of an industrial revolution.

Now they enjoy strikingly low levels of unemployment, booming salaries and improving public services.

But the process that has brought along such prosperity - fracking - carries environmental concerns and has had a controversial welcome in the UK. It is also something which could come to St Helens.

The UK arm of international gas company, Dart Energy, currently holds a licence to potentially undertake extreme energy extraction procedures in Sutton, Clock Face, Burtonwood and Newton-le-Willows.

David Rupkalvis, the editor of the Williston Herald newspaper, said: “In Williston, the fracking technology led to a boom that began in around 2005 or 2006. Pretty much everything has changed.

“From an economic standpoint, it has been amazing. We have an unemployment rate under one per cent. The average salary in the oilfield is more than $100,000 and - despite being the sixth largest city in North Dakota - Williston has led the state in sales tax collections for close to two years.”

The only downside to the wave of prosperity that Williston has been riding has been that the town’s amenities have struggled to keep up with such development.

But, on whether fracking would be good or bad for St Helens, David added: “Probably a bit of both. But the energy industry would bring high-paying jobs.

“But with those jobs would come problems - higher expenses, more traffic, big trucks. Overall, is it worth it? I say yes.

“Despite the challenges, we feel fortunate to live in a place where people have jobs, get decent pay and can provide for their families.”