Government Accused of Bribing Councils Over Fracking
Local Authorities who allow fracking projects in their areas are to be offered 100% of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes under new government incentive measures. Government officials believe fracking could generate billions of pounds for the economy as well as providing thousands of jobs while potentially cutting energy prices.
The offer which had previously been suggested by the Institute of Directors could be worth up to £1.7m a year for a typical site. Environmentalist groups are unimpressed, calling the latest move a ‘bribe‘ to influence cash strapped local councils. News that French energy giant Total is to invest heavily in the UK shale gas industry has served to add more fuel to an already inflammable debate with Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Jane Thomas pointing out, “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.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is convinced that the controversial practice can form a vital part of Britain’s economic recovery, saying; “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.” Ministers are also urging the Environment Agency to cut its permitting times for shale gas installations from a typical 13 weeks to 2 weeks in order to boost the number of fracking applications.