Shale gas ‘bribes’ won’t stop us, say opponents

Anti-fracking protestors demonstrating outside County Hall in Preston
Anti-fracking protestors demonstrating outside County Hall in Preston
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Lancashire residents opposed to fracking today vowed they couldn’t be “bought off” by Government plans to pay households up to £20,000 each to offset the effects of living near a shale gas drilling site.

A £1bn shale wealth fund will set aside up to 10 per cent of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit the communities affected.

Now Prime Minister Theresa May is saying the money can go directly to residents rather than being given to councils or community trusts to spend.

Residents and anti-fracking protestors in Lancashire were furious today – describing the offer as a “bribe”.

Gas exploration firm Cuadrilla is waiting for the results of its appeal against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse it permission to frack at sites at Roseacre Wood near Elswick and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

Claire Stephenson from Preston New Road Action Group said: “It is unreservedly outrageous that the government and industry have resorted to cash bribes to frack communities.

“Our opposition to fracking isn’t about money – it’s about our health, our children, our safety, the quality of the air that we breathe and the cleanliness of the water that we drink. You can’t buy that and you can’t buy us.”

Barbara Richardson from Roseacre Awareness Group stated: “We moved to the countryside for the peace, quiet and way of life it offers. We worked hard to afford it. Our home is not likely to sell at all with a 24 x 7 fracking site next door to it, so how this could ‘compensate for any disruption and impact on property prices’ is ridiculous. This tells me the government is desperate. They know there is huge and growing opposition and rightly so.”

John Hobson from Defend Lytham said: “With the fracking industry’s cost of extraction set to be higher than the wholesale price of gas for the foreseeable future this sounds like an empty promise and people really shouldn’t let themselves be swayed by it. “

But business groups and other organisations welcomed the move, saying residents and the local supply chain would share the economic benefits.

Francis Egan, chief executive officer of Cuadrilla said: “The Shale Gas Wealth Fund is a great initiative from this Government.”

The proposal is now out for public consultation.