Councils that give the green-light to ‘fracking’ projects will be allowed to keep millions of pounds more in tax revenue, David Cameron has announced.

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The Prime Minister said local authorities in England would receive 100% of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes - rather than the usual 50%.

The move is part of an “all out” drive to exploit the controversial pressure mining technique. The Government believes it could generate billions of pounds for the economy, support 74,000 jobs, and lower energy costs.

Total is due to confirm this morning that it is investing in fracking exploration in the UK, by taking a share in a licence in the Midlands currently operated by a US firm.

Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment would mean councils hanging on to up to £1.7 million extra a year from each fracking site.

They stressed that the mining industry had already pledged to give local communities £100,000 for each test drilling - and a further 1% of the revenues if shale gas is discovered.

Mr Cameron said: “A key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future is to back businesses with better infrastructure.

“That’s why we’re going all out for shale. It will mean more jobs and opportunities for people, and economic security for our country”.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, business minister Michael Fallon said Britain had to “embrace the extraordinary opportunities offered by shale gas” for the sake of generations to come.

“In the Seventies, North Sea oil helped salvage our economy from crippling stagnation,” he wrote.

“We have a similar chance to create tens of thousands of jobs and energy security.

“A mile and more beneath us lies deposits of gas-bearing shale rock with the potential to guarantee energy supplies in an increasingly uncertain and competitive world.

“If our boldness is matched by others in Europe, it could also drive down the cost of power for hard-working families and businesses.”

But environmentalists accused ministers of trying to “bribe” local authorities. Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace said: “This is a naked attempt by the government to bribe hard pressed councils into accepting fracking in their area.

“Cameron is effectively telling councils to ignore the risks and threat of large-scale industrialisation in exchange for cold hard cash.

“But the proposal reveals just how worried the government is about planning applications being turned down.

“Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy.”

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman said: “Councils have been clear that the people and communities whose areas host fracking sites must feel the benefit.

“Today’s announcement from the Prime Minister is a step in the right direction, which will mean that business rates paid by shale gas firms will help councils to maintain and improve local services for residents.”

He went on: “While it is encouraging that government is listening, local areas will be keen to hear more details on how the community benefits package will be strengthened to fairly renumerate those who will be most affected.

“Given the significant tax breaks being proposed to drive forward the development of shale gas and the impact drilling will have on local communities, these areas should not be short-changed by fracking schemes. One per cent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good enough; returns should be more in line with payments across the rest of the world and be set at 10 per cent.

“The community benefits of fracking should be enshrined in law, so companies cannot withdraw them to the detriment of local people.

“The LGA is encouraging the development of models which will ensure cash is used to support local priorities and which will treat money from fracking separately from ordinary tax revenue.”

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said: “Gas will remain an important part of our energy mix in the future, and if shale gas can replace our rapidly depleting North Sea reserves it could help improve our energy security.

“It is right that any communities that host nationally significant energy infrastructure are able to share in its rewards.

“But the Government must get its priorities right. Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring, will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix.”

Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Jane Thomas said: “It’s ironic that a French-owned company is seeking to drill the UK for shale gas when it’s banned from fracking in France due to environmental concerns.

“Fracking is not the solution to our energy problems - experts say it won’t lead to cheaper energy bills and the Government admits shale gas and coal bed methane development could have significant impacts on local people and the environment.

“The best way to build an energy system that doesn’t cost the earth is to invest in a comprehensive energy efficiency programme and develop the UK’s huge renewable power potential.”

20 comments

  • Honest John. Yes I am an expert I'm afraid, I am afraid in the hydrocarbon exploration industry as I'm sure you are not surprised about. The safey record for the fracking industry in the UK with regard to to enviroment and this can be checked with DECC. Is 100%. Agh ought yes we have sold natural gas in the summer as we have been unable to store it as Greenpeace protested against the new storage fascia ties proposed. But this would not have changed the fact we are approximately 50% short with are production and rely on imports from countries such as Russia. As for you hydrocarbon usage yes you probably do use less than my family but you probably use a lot more than you think. I have looked at and have copies the BGS and seismographs for the UK. There is a small fault north of Lincolnshire but none recorded in the Norfolk area.and this includes all the fracking that has been completed safely off the north Norfolk coast. So don't panic it's going to be OK

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I love the way that Greenpace complain about this "Bribery", but keep very quiet about the millions of tax payers money used to subsidise wind power which only destroys local communities. At least this will give money back to local communities. And i agree with other posters, fracking has been done just off our coast for the last 30 years with no incidents and leaks to atmosphere. It is a safe proven technology. Bring it on ASAP please

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Bring on the fracking now. If we wish to keep heating our homes and driving our cars and all the other things we require from fossil fuels then fracking is a must. People moan because the price of oil and gas is so high and the same people mone about fracking. Well to all the people who do not want fracking. Stop using fossil fuels and then we will not need to frack. No buses no cars no heating, and before people say green energy, well that's not gone very well over the last 25 years had it and it not for the want of trying.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • I love the way that Greenpace complain about this "Bribery", but keep very quiet about the millions of tax payers money used to subsidise wind power which only destroys local communities. At least this will give money back to local communities. And i agree with other posters, fracking has been done just off our coast for the last 30 years with no incidents and leaks to atmosphere. It is a safe proven technology. Bring it on ASAP please

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Cameron cannot be trusted on this matter - this is bribery, being done on behalf of the industry. He has clearly been lobbied very heavily - as it was recently revealed he and his mates were by the alcohol industry to back down on minimum pricing. Google 'fracking' and read the horror stories coming out of the US about fracking waste, groundwater pollution etc. No to bribery, no to fracking - another finite resource. Yes to renewable wind, solar and tidal power.

    Report this comment

    Steve Gordon

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Frack off Greenpeace I want to be warm in the winter.Heating needs gas to work, 80%of needing capacity use it Even Germanys Uber Gruns has opened coal fired incinerators for heat energy.Well done Cameron on the ball again we are going from strength to strength and the Druid lefties hate it.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Honest John please read the posts below. And tell me the last we had an earthquake in norfolk as the north norfolk coast has been fracked many times already. Oh and please stop using fossil fuels so there is more for the rest of us. I bet you are first to moan when your heating goes up.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • ingo wagenknecht you are funny. You have got to be a member of Greenpeace. I will address your points so you can go and spead the word. First of all drilling for fossil fuels is scrutinized very heavily The department of energy an climate Change. The health and safety executive are the two main ones. The 650 chemicals used are drilling fluids, are not all used at once and ARE documented I can assure you,as I have seen the documents. There is shale gas in norfolk and fracking has been completed many times of the norfolk Coast over the 20 years so. Please turn off you computer as it required hydrocarbons in the manufacture of its parts.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Whimsie73. I'm sorry to say we unable to drive our motor vehicles on wave power and the French have been a major drilling an producer of oil and gas in the uk and North Sea for a least 20 years. We have also been fracking in the North Sea for the last 20 years with some fracking being completed just off the coast of Cromer. It's not new to us only new to the the landdrilling and people who have not been involved with it before. We need more oil and gas and that's the fact I'm afraid. Last winter the UK came within 6 hours of running out of gas. Can you imagine the mayhem then if we had run out.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • If a democratically elected Council makes a decision, then it is doing so on behalf of the people. People will agree on some and disagree on others. The whole idea is that a few elected people make the decision because you can't put every decision to the general public vote. If you asked everyone every time you'd get absolutely nowhere, which is about as far as the Labour Council has got because they waste money on consultants rather than make a decision.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Panic, I have reread the posts below as requested, and they are very amusing, particularly that “it is a safe proven technology” – now where have I heard that before? Oh yes, waste incinerators. You say we need more gas because we came close to running out, so perhaps you would explain the mentality of selling our gas abroad from the Bacton terminal at a cheaper price than domestic users in the UK pay for it? My own household use of fossil fuels is so low that I am probably subsidising yours, and no, I don’t moan when the heating goes up, but I did write a letter several years ago over the short-sightedness of selling our gas. I have not looked at the seismological records for Norfolk so I cannot answer when Norfolk last had an earthquake, the last one I knowingly experienced in King’s Lynn was in 2008, however the epicentre was around 80 miles to the west. Whilst you appear to consider yourself to be a fracking expert, your comments show you expect the seismological effects would be ‘localised,’ which shows you completely overlook the fact that any associated effects expand outward along lines of weakness in the plate, and therefore more often than not, manifest themselves elsewhere. What is most disheartening about your comments is that you expect those who will profit to be honest.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • We are an island, surrounded by water, so why is the UK not using this natural resource for its energy? The last few weeks alone will serve to show the power of the sea around us. Instead we will allow the french to come over and cause mayhem wherever greedy councils give permission, whilst fracking remains banned in France due to environmental concerns! It seems that UK citizens are not worth consideration once again.

    Report this comment

    disolushund

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Its a bribe to councils hardpressed by central demands for cuts. Fracking is not regulated and companies undertaking it have no compulsion to declare what chemicals they are pumping underground, a concoction of 650 different chemicals. Those who say it will bring down energy prices are amplifying party politicians secret dreams, they are wrong, and they have not listened to the market analysts. I'm not surprised that the debate underlining this new and problematic method of increasing CO2 in the athmosphere by extracting fossile fuel is led by selfish investors, secretive and socially irresponsible drilling companies and me me consumers. I think the best that could happen is that the water supply is contaminated by frackers and that those companies selling water from Lancashires Bowland valley go bust because nobody has any confidence that their water is untainted. Luckily Norfolk will not have much fracking opportunities as drillers will go were the shale lies, the Shires and the North west and east. Forgot to say that this will divide communities internally and pitch councils against each other.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Panic, checking is not quite so straightforward is it? While the UK bodies who are supposed to protect the public and environment take their normal course of action, concealment, under reporting etc, then anything they want to do can be claimed as 100% safe. I think you'll find Norwich had an earthquake back in the 90s but I didn’t notice it myself at the time, and I know they happen on an almost daily basis somewhere in the UK. I haven’t looked at BGS records for a couple of years, but I do remember that since 1900 there were twice as many large earthquakes in the second half than in the first, so that should be telling us something, unless we want to sweep it under the carpet. What they can get away with in the vast spaces in America will not be the same for our very small island, and large areas of Norfolk are little above sea level with a high water table. What goes down either seeps away through the strata or comes back up, it is not all captured, filtered and left clean as a whistle …. There are endless issues that will never be addressed without a rose tinted spin to them, we’ve seen that over incinerators, and big money covers up everything in the short term without a care for the longer term consequences, which neither you nor I could possibly know about. I’m no tree hugging hippy, but I do believe we are simply caretakers of this planet, it is not ours to milk for our own ends and ruin for the generations to come. It's not sustainable either. Technology could progress in solar power, my calculator doesn’t need much light at all to function, it’s also happy under a desk lamp at night. There’s a vast desert in America filled with electric cars bought up by greedy oil companies who want to avoid denting their profits. Take all these people pushing for the incinerator at Saddlebow, they’ll be dead in 25 years or less so what do they care, none of them are able to see past their own pockets. Like many others who are opposed to it, I will also be dead, but then some of us look at a much bigger and long term picture. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

  • I am glad Panic has brought up that fracking has been used in the North Sea for decades-something the anti-s fail to mention. If we want the lifestyle we have now we have to power it somehow-it is obvious that current wave power technology is too expensive -the power of the sea is the very thing that makes it so. The horror stories from the USA are of a system slightly different to that proposed for the UK I believe. Besides it is the USA and their controls are not as stringent as ours. Looking forward to seeing a BGS map of where fracking might go on in Norfolk-last time we had an attempt at oil or gas from rocks here was the Setch Oildfield company and their attempts at extracting from the Kimmeridge Clay under West Winch and Setch. As for the benefits returning to the areas where the enterprise takes place-about time too-how many times do we hear about the benefits of tourism for instance, but the business rates go to central government to be redistributed-and we get a raw deal from that.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • No amount of money should persuade a democratically elected local council to effectively ignore the interests of their residents.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Bring on the fracking now. If we wish to keep heating our homes and driving our cars and all the other things we require from fossil fuels then fracking is a must. People moan because the price of oil and gas is so high and the same people mone about fracking. Well to all the people who do not want fracking. Stop using fossil fuels and then we will not need to frack. No buses no cars no heating, and before people say green energy, well that's not gone very well over the last 25 years had it and it not for the want of trying.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • This Government announcement is nothing more than a sensible policy decision and, luckily, a Labour government would do the same. We have a growing energy crisis and, in fracking, we have one of many courses of acton that could work in our collective favour. The antis are not interested in the common good - all they want is to put the lights out. If fracking comes to Norfolk I, for one, will be out there demonstrating in support of it.

    Report this comment

    Jack1956

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • I hope the Greenpeace and all the other protesters walked to county hall or used their wave powered transport machines.

    Report this comment

    Panic

    Monday, January 13, 2014

  • Of course it’s a bribe, but then the US can always rely on the UK to be a willing, ignorant accomplice for greed obsessed money makers. Who cares about the effect on plate tectonics when there’s money flowing into the government’s advisers pockets. When meddling all goes wrong like it did in Fukushima, we have the media to cover up the truth of what is happening, pretend all is ok and let them have the Olympics …. And in the UK we have the Environment Agency to turn their blind eye, and the Health Protection Agency to provide their worthless reassurance, and if a council is needed to ignore risks in exchange for cold hard cash then NCC will be one of the first in the queue, something else they can stick out of their way in West Norfolk, while their perceived benefit to the people and community will be having a visitor centre!

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Monday, January 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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