Lancashire Police gets £4.3m grant for fracking costs

Anti-fracking protest
Image caption Anti-fracking protests have been held regularly at the Preston New Road site since 2017

The government has agreed to give Lancashire Police a £4.3m grant to help cover the cost of policing the ongoing Preston New Road fracking protests.

Last year, the government handed back just £1.4m to the force, the minimum allowed under Home Office rules.

But Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd has now confirmed special grant funding.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said it was "a real victory".

But he said the growing costs of the policing operation will reach close to £11.5m by the end of March.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Equipment at the Preston New Road drill site

Police and crime commissioners can make applications to the Home Office for special grant funding when an operation has exceeded one per cent of the annual police force budget.

But by waiving the normal one percent rule, the government has recognised "the significant financial impact" the fracking operation is having on Lancashire Police, the commissioner's office said.

"Whilst the grant doesn't cover the full costs of the operation, it is a huge contribution and will make a significant difference, recovering what we have already spent," Mr Grunshaw said.

"I have always maintained that the police budget, from which we've already saved £86m since 2010, should be spent on policing services to keep people safe.

"This is not extra money but will lessen the burden on the force."

He added that the demand created by the protest was "not likely to leave Lancashire any time soon".

A special grant of up to £2.3m will be awarded for 2018/19.

This represents 85% of the total additional costs and assumes a 15% contribution from the force, the commissioner's office said.

An additional £2m has also been given towards the 2017/18 costs.

Including the previous £1.4m, this makes the total grant received for the operation £5.8m, out of total additional costs of £6.8m. A further application will be considered for 2019/20.

More than 430 arrests have been made so far at the Preston New Road site.

The Home Office confirmed Lancashire Police had been awarded special grant funding.

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