A Government minister has said it is “absolutely right” communities living near fracking sites should receive financial incentives in the same week chancellor George Osborne announced a boost for the controversial shale gas industry.
Mr Osborne said the “generous new tax regime” would include a shale gas field allowance.
He said: “Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.”
But opposers to the controversial plans to extract shale gas in Lancashire say communities can not be bought and not enough has been done to address safety concerns.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, energy minister John Hayes said: ““[Shale] should be safe and secure and the community thoroughly engaged. We certainly need to think more about the benefits to communities and I want us to have a whole range of technologies – nuclear, wind, shale – all will receive benefits as appropriate,”
But critics say his suggestions mirror a proposal made in a letter to the minister from fracking company Cuadrilla.
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “In the long term, local communities must reap benefits from our activities. In consultation with these communities, we will develop a community benefit scheme which allows them to share in the success of future gas production sites.”
Tina Rothery, of Residents Against Fylde Fracking (RAFA) said: “This has served to energise the anti-fracking movement.
“We are constantly told that the prospect of renewable energy is not feasible because of the tax breaks it requires and yet George Osborne is rolling over backwards to encourage the shale gas industry in this country with tax breaks and a new field allowance which looks to be a way of ensuring the shale gas companies can not lose.
“John Hayes adds insult to injury when he imagines communities can be bought.
“At no point do either of these men address the safety concerns we are so gravely worried about.
“All the conversation is about profit and minimising the risk financially with no conversation at all about the risks to a community’s health and wellbeing.”
Concerns have been raised about pollution and small earth tremors linked to the method.