Cameron urges fracking opponents to 'get on board'

 

David Cameron: "Shale is important for our country"

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Councils that back fracking will get to keep more money in tax revenue, David Cameron has said as he urged opponents to "get on board".

The prime minister said English local authorities would receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes - rather than the usual 50%.

In a visit to a Lincolnshire fracking site, he predicted the process could support 74,000 jobs and reduce bills.

But Greenpeace accused ministers of trying to "bribe councils".

Jane Thomas from Friends of The Earth said the tax boost was a "community sweetener"

Mr Cameron's announcement on business rates came as French company Total confirmed plans to invest about £30m to help drill two exploratory wells in Lincolnshire. It is the first major energy firm to invest in fracking in the UK.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England.

But the process to extract it - called fracking, which is short for "hydraulic fracturing" - has led to protests, with environmentalists fearing the technique could cause small earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.

On Monday protesters at the Barton Moss fracking facility in Greater Manchester climbed on to lorries entering the site.

Lord Browne, Cuadrilla: "We have to demonstrate we can do this well"

But Mr Cameron argued that the UK had the "strongest environmental controls" and pledged: "Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers."

"Shale is important for our country," he continued. "It could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3bn of investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security.

"I want us to get on board this change that is doing so much good and bringing so much benefit to North America. I want us to benefit from it here as well."

Infographic showing shale gas extraction

Fracking involves drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside.

Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment would mean councils keeping up to £1.7m extra a year from each fracking site.

Separately, the mining industry has pledged to give communities £100,000 for test drilling and a further 1% of the revenues if shale is discovered, they added.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said councils could benefit by up to "£10m per wellhead" if shale gas was successfully extracted in their communities, through the 1% levy on revenues.

The BBC's David Shukman explains how fracking works

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said the announcement was a "step in the right direction" but any packages had to "fairly remunerate" those affected.

Start Quote

This is a naked attempt by the government to bribe hard-pressed councils into accepting fracking in their area.”

End Quote Lawrence Carter Greenpeace

"One percent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good enough; returns should be more in line with payments across the rest of the world and be set at 10%," a spokesman said. "The community benefits of fracking should be enshrined in law, so companies cannot withdraw them to the detriment of local people."

Responding to the LGA's call for 10% of revenues, Mr Fallon said: "This is something obviously the industry will keep under review."

For Labour, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said it was right for communities to share in the potential rewards from shale gas, but he called on the government to "get its priorities right".

Michael Fallon said he expects councils to gain up to "£1.75 million" per site

"Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK's energy mix," he said.

Friends of the Earth's Jane Thomas argued that the new policy "highlights the depth of local opposition to fracking and the desperate lengths ministers are prepared to go to try and overcome it".

'New North Sea'

Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace added: "Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy."

St Anna's Road site The "fracking" technique to extract shale gas has proved controversial

The Institute of Directors welcomed the move on business rates, with chief economist James Sproule arguing: "Investment from Total is a vote of long-term confidence in the UK shale industry, and is a welcome sign that the government is creating the conditions necessary to maximise the potential benefits of a new domestic energy source.

UKIP energy spokesman Roger Helmer warned that "all the financial benefits [of fracking] could be swallowed up by bureaucracy" and urged the government to create a sovereign wealth fund so that fracking profits "would ensure financial security for future generations".

Map showing areas of the UK licensed for oil and gas exploration and areas under consideration for licensing
 

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  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 1368.

    Once again a HYS thread on an important subject is overwhelmed by people who are so ignorant it makes you weep.

    A spoof environmental campaign in California once got tens of thousands petitioning against di-hydrogen-monoxide a.k.a water!

    You claim government ignores you? Is that because they are cynical tools of big business? Or because it's pointless engaging with such stupidity and suspicion.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1367.

    Last time I checked bribing public officials was illegal.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1366.

    1325. RYGnotB
    There was, however, a blatant suggestion in your post to poison Londoners. Which, as I said, is a worrying attitude.

    I'm not the one suggesting that fracking is a good idea. That would be our Southern-centric tory government. All I suggested is that they try it out in their own back yard before mine. Seems a perfectly reasonable suggestion to me.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1365.

    So, as well as trying to bribe local councils, Dave tries to woo the public with suggested lower energy bills! I remember the Tories saying exactly the same thing when North Sea Oil was discovered! it did not happen then and it will not happen if fracking is allowed to go ahead .
    The voting public at large DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN!
    YOU CANNOT TRUST POLITICIANS! ANY OF THEM

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1364.

    classic nimby debate

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1363.

    Fracking is poisoning to the environment and we have far more environmentally friendly ways of generating electricity which haven't been explored. It is very noticeable that so many MP's families have a vested interest in fracking. Cuts to local authority money means these 'incentives' are in effect bribes as they know councils are desperate for the money.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1362.

    1266. RonC " ground water! .. Prove it is 100% proof"

    Now that would be good 100% alcoholic drinking water(!) - we could bottle in and sell it round the world - just like Scotch!

    Nothing is life is 100% anything. Isn't the question - is this the optimum way to meet our energy needs without destroying the reason the British stay here - the environment.

    We may get vastly improved minor roads!

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1361.

    France gets nearly 80% of its electricity from Nuclear power stations whilst the UK is less than 20%.

    France doesn't really need "fracking" - the UK does as we're now totally dependent on imported gas and dirty coal.

    It'll take 10-15 years to get some replacement nuclear power stations (let alone additional capacity) so we need something NOW

    Funny how Greenpeace don't mention windfarm "bribes"

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 1360.

    I see we have a group of EcoWarriors disliking all of he constructive posts. I am sure those are the same people who drive cars, use gas and electric and are no doubt the first to complain with any disruption of service. It is more than likely the also believe the insurance fraudsters who attempted to claim by hooking up gas bottles to water lines in the US.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1359.

    1338.
    @Sally

    "Nugget -Nothing is perfect. But, the colossal restitution you'd be entitled to would result in those corporate officers probably personally paying you for most of your or their lives. Setting a powerful deterrent to all corporate officers."

    Noone should need to get ill to then become a deterrent, thats a monstrous experiment, 10p or £10billion means nothing if you'll die in agony.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1358.

    @1334 A bit of walking might solve our gigantic obesity problem, so don't knock it till you try it.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1357.

    1305.ldnkiwi"Gov.uk website: It is illegal to offer, promise, give, request, agree, receive or accept bribes"......
    ........Tell that one to the hundreds of lobbyists that infest the cess pit called the House of Commons or to the cabal of crooks, liars and thieves who call themselves MPs.
    LOL

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 1356.

    It is bribery isn't it?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1355.

    @1286, the only country currently using fracking in any meaningful way is the USA. There, the issues with it have seen the US energy dept call into question the long term safety of the process, and the reliability of the claims made (not by them) of its potential. In this country we have no real idea either, yet we keep hearing wild, substance less, promises designed to soften resistance. Why?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1354.

    1339. John
    Before well casing fails the wells are either worked over and fixed or the casing pulled and the well cemented up (abandoned). The well shafts are not 20" wide. That is only surface casing and runs maybe ~200ft down. The rock is not 'turned into swiss cheese. Thousands of tiny micro fractures are induced and packed with sand/beads etc. Please do a little real research.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 1353.

    This is the problem with Dave, he thinks money is the answer to all problems. Shallow and misguided.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 1352.

    You're bribing Councils now!?

    Wow.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 1351.

    It doesnt get much more frustrating than a people whose minds are set on fracking etc being so bad for environment which they keep refering to so passionately. Do some research. You just cant argue with these people that think they know it all...

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1350.

    We've seen the effects of this kind of toxic industrialisation before. In South Wales, for example, huge wealth was made from Coal yet there's little or no evidence of that bonanza in Valley towns today - quite the opposite, in fact. Typical that Dave should back something that doesn't just extract minerals. Get ready for a property boom as the wealth from fracking is 'stored' in London.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1349.

    Great.. Bribe councils by dangling cash to cash starved councils, thereby allowing them to take the blame when residents are upset. Damned if you do, damned of you don't, but at least central government cannot be implicated in any way. By default, those councils that follow the wishes of their residents are punished. Great moral leadership and courage by Cameron again.

 

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