A £1bn shale wealth fund unveiled by former chancellor George Osborne in November will set aside up to 10% of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit the communities affected. But now the Prime Minister is amending the scheme so the money can go direct to residents rather than being given to councils or community trusts to spend.
It is expected that the new Fund could deliver as much as £10m to each community where wells are sited. Downing Street declined to estimate how much payouts could be worth, but it is thought that individual households could receive between £5,000 and £20,000. The change could go some way to countering resident resistance to fracking, but is likely to be characterised by critics as a “bribe” by critics.
Speaking ahead of the launch of a consultation on the Fund, Mrs May said: “The Government I lead will be always be driven by the interests of the many - ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise. As I said on my first night as Prime Minister: when we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful but of you.”
But Greenpeace UK chief scientist Doug Parr said: “The Government has tried to sweeten the fracking pill with cash payments before, and it didn’t work. Over the last two years, public opposition has soared and support for shale has tanked. People’s concerns about climate change and their local environment cannot be silenced with a wad of cash.
“You can’t put a price on the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the beauty of our countryside.”
Ken Cronin, chief executive of trade body UK Onshore Oil & Gas, said: “The onshore oil and gas industry in the UK continues to believe that local people should share in the success of our industry and be rewarded for hosting sites on behalf of others in the country.”