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

    Comment number 1728.

    i thought we were skint?? wonderful how money can be found when it suits Cameron and co.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1727.

    @1718 - Very simple view of the situation - and 100% correct.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1726.

    He's looking after the next door neighbor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1725.

    Get real, this is just what we need. Reject it any you will be paying even larger bills for gas and electricity. Don't let the scare-mongers win this like they did with nuclear power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1724.

    We don't need this..
    We don't want the landscape of the northern counties scarred by the ugly steel framework of hydraulic pumps.
    We don't want any chance of our Yorkshire water being contaminated.
    We don't want there to be an imminent health risk to fish, animals & plants.

    The fact they are offering all that money to buy peoples opinions says it all.

    Local councils need to grow a backbone..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1723.

    This is great news, I have always wanted to set fire to my water as it comes out of the tap

  • rate this

    Comment number 1722.

    Excellent point 366. DavidofWatford. I fully support it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1721.

    Why the rush? If it's useful now, it will be useful in 10 years time, when we may actually need it but, then, this is not about use, it's about GREED, pure and simple, and a cynical attempt to bribe us inconvenient voters for another 5 years at the trough. Look at all the little piggies, leading piggy lives...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1720.

    I'm open-minded about fracking, but totally opposed to bribing local government to accept it.

    One of the many reasons immigration is so widely loathed is because it causes urban sprawl.

    Local govt officers and Tory ministers seem unhealthily over-inclined to place developers above voters already. Adding extra incentives for something that's supposed to be so profitable seems wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1719.

    But this is such a small Island. Is the intention to sink us beneath the waves? What happens when Shale gas runs out? What happens when companys that have exploited our Island leave? This is not North America. This is a tiny Island. Stop this notion that somehow we are a vast territory with millions of square miles at the Frackers disposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1718.

    Don`t believe a word they saying, they are all liers and are only in it for the cash.
    They do not care about you or the area you live in, they are only interested in the cash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1717.

    Love how he says it could make bills cheaper, this will probably cost us more money as they will need money to deal with the infrastructure. Then it is going to be a private company so they will charge what they like just like the trains, and the energy firms now. This is smoke and mirrors for his cronies to make money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1716.

    so my gas bill will be lower dc dont insult me old boy

  • rate this

    Comment number 1715.

    Al little confused by claims that fracking is used at Wytch Farm:
    Commnet from current owner - Wytch Farm is not a shale gas field but a conventional oil field that uses conventional techniques, assured the Perenco spokesman.
    This following Dorset's stance to fracking for shale gas

  • rate this

    Comment number 1714.

    1690. CU012

    That 'bod' is Lord Browne - fracker in chief of the UK. (Note the way he deals with inconvenient facts particularly from the lady in the front row - he never cam back afterwards as promised so far as I know.)

    Just watch it all -and think. I had to sit through it.

    Also try the House of Lords Economic Committee video (or read Hansard) on afternoon of 3/2/13 - I sat through that too!

  • Comment number 1713.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1712.

    Energy self sufficiency and drive energy bills down?

    The rights to this energy is already being sold off to foreign business interests linked to ministers...and the government are bribing councils to support it. No one else smell a rat here?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1711.

    I'm all for it, lets get it done to secure real cost effective gas for the next 30 to 50 years. DO NOT WASTE this one like we have the oil and gas reserves in the past. Organise the country for a long term legacy of cheap affordable power for the future. Do NOT listen to the greens or they will have us back to the horse and cart asap the idiots!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1710.

    This is why we cannot have leaders like this anymore running this country, he will sell the very soil you stand on for profit.

    David Cameron I suspect will find out that people and a country are more important than profit. We don't own our ports, our services, utilities and much more. It has to stop and any leader that is brave enough to do that, will get my vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1709.

    So David Cameron gives tax breaks to the facilitators and the actual fracking companies. This means the UK tax payer will be left to foot the shortfall in tax revenues. As EDF is one of those companies and is a French nationalised energy company, this means the UK tax payer will be paying taxes into the French exchequer. Thank you from the people of France and isn't the free market wonderful?


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