Lancashire has the credentials to have a louder voice at the top table of the regional economy, according to the chief executive of the firm behind the county’s shale gas revolution.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources the company behind shale gas exploration in Lancashire, said the county had the credentials to be able to be as influential as Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

The county has more than 50,000 businesses (accounting for 20% of the North West); has one of the strongest leisure offers led by Blackpool; blue-chip firms such as aerospace giant BAE Systems and nuclear fuel manufacturer Westinghouse; and now the potential of a shale gas industry.

Cuadrilla is sponsoring the Construction Business of the Year award at the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, for a second successive year.

Mr Egan said: “Lancashire has a lot going for it and has many strings to its bow which other parts of the North West simply do not.

“A diverse economy is the key to a healthy economy and while Manchester and Liverpool may be strong in areas such as technology or financial services, Lancashire has strengths of its own to bring to the table.

“It is up to us in the business community as well as our political leaders and influencers to ensure we have as much of a say in what is happening with our region.

“There is a lot going on in the country now which will shape the way we do business for a long time, so we cannot afford to be timid, Lancashire must find its voice.”