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Environmentalists Accuse British PM of Bribing Locals to Accept Fracking Sites

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has renewed his backing of fracking by stating that the government will be going all out for shale, and that local authorities will now be allowed to keep 100% of all business rates raised from any fracking sites, a development that is expected to raise millions of pounds for communities.

In order to calm opposition against the fracking sites popping up around the country, the Prime Minister has also suggested that any homeowners living near to a site will be given part of the revenues generated by the site in a direct cash payment. When a well is first fracked the homeowners will receive £100,000 payment, followed by 1% of all revenues earned by the site in the future.

This new offer was made on the day that it was announced that Total has become the first international oil major to invest in the UK shale sector. However Jane Thomas, a senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said that the government is effectively bribing the locals to keep quiet. The “announcement from the government that councils can keep all the business rate revenue they receive from fracking companies marks a new low in the government's attempts to curry fracking favour with local people.

Related article: EPA Issues New Rule to Require Chemical Disclosures for Offshore Fracking

Friends of the Earth believe that this is the first time that government money is being use to incentivise local communities. These community sweeteners also raise huge concerns about conflicts of interest if those councils who potentially will benefit from this money are also the ones who determine the planning applications from fracking companies in the first place.”

Cameron, on a visit to a fracking site, announced that the government will double the amount of business rates that local councils across the country can keep, from 50% to 100%; a deal that could be worth £1.7 million a year per site.

Cameron explained that “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.”

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has declared that he plans to halve all taxes charged to fracking companies who are exploring for shale gas in the UK. “We are prepared to push the boundaries of scientific endeavour, including in controversial areas, because Britain has always been a pioneer. The country that was the first to extract oil and gas from deep under the sea should not turn its back on new sources of energy like shale gas because it's all too difficult.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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