Anti-fracking campaigners have reacted angrily to reports the Government is about to change trespass laws and offer landowners £20,000 to allow underground access to drill for shale gas.
Under the current legislation, shale gas firms need permission from land and homeowners before drilling under their properties, or must get court permission.
Now the Government has revealed changes which it hopes will allow shale gas exploration in Lancashire and trigger an economic boom. It is already proposing to pay each community £100,000 per well dug in their area.
More than 46,000 people – including over 2,000 from Lancashire – have already signed a Greenpeace petition aimed at staging a legal block to the changes in the trespass laws.
Residents Action On Fylde Fracking said in a statement today: “When it comes to fracking, the arrogance of this Government is astounding.
“They are planning to override our legal and democratic right to object to horizontal drilling beneath our homes by changing the trespass law.
“They plan to give the drilling companies an automatic right to drill under people’s homes without their permission.
“They will not be allowed to get away with it. Greenpeace has launched a legal challenge and has gathered thousands of signatures nationwide to keep the trespass law as it stands.”
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Lawrence Carter said today: “Dangling larger bribes in front of communities won’t quell their deep concerns about fracking. People know very well you can’t put a price on clean air and water, unspoilt countryside, and a stable climate.”
The Government is proposing to allow underground access under 300 metres for shale oil and gas developments.
Under the proposals people living above ground would receive a voluntary payment of £20,000 per well.
Cuadrilla is planing to explore two sites at Rosecare and Little Plumpton, near Preston.
The business community is largely behind it, and David Cameron has urged Lancashire residents to give shale gas exploration a chance.
The growing political force that is Ukip also supports fracking, saying the UK should “develop shale gas to reduce energy bills and free us from dependence on foreign oil and gas”.