In news sure to have huge knock-on effects for the UK commercial energy economy, prime minister David Cameron has announced that the coalition government is “going all out for shale”. Number 10 is expected to announce new fracking sites and a strutted system that will entitle local authorities to 100% of business rates generated from fracking in their boundaries. The news brings a positive outcome to the story featured almost six months ago that local councils were losing say on whether fracking could be carried out in their jurisdiction. See our previous article on Fracking Controls lifted.
Cameron is also expected to announce that revue generated from allowing fracking sites could even potentially be paid, in cash, directly to homeowners needy to the area.
Fracking, or the process of shale gas extraction, is a highly-controversial topic on the commercial energy agenda at present. Widespread in remote regions of the Middle East, fracking has become more frequent in regions of the US with reported adverse effects as severe as increases in earthquakes and irreversible damage to the water table in the region.
With that in mind, environmentalists have seen the move to pass revenue on to councils and members of the public likely to be effected by new fracking sites as little more than a bribe.
Jane Thomas, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Today’s 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.
“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.”
With such staunch opposition Cameron will very much have his hands full in rallying support for shale gas extraction in the UK, but with warnings of an energy deficit, the government seem to be banking on shale to become a successful part of the energy economy, if only to stabilise revenue from commercial energy exportation as more renewable sources are established.