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Government's fracking offer to councils labelled a "bribe"

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: January 13, 2014

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Accusations of “bribery” have been hurled at the Government after David Cameron announced plans to allow councils which back fracking to keep all shale gas related business rates.

Under normal collection rules councils get to keep 50 per cent of the rates they collect.

But authorities that support fracking will get all of the cash available in a move described by Greenpeace as tantamount to a “bribe”.

Fracking, which involves digging deep wells and then pumping a high pressure water and sand mix into rocks to flush out valuable natural gas, is viewed by the Government as a potential solution to the UK’s energy supply problems.

The mining industry has already put forward its own measures to make fracking more attractive to communities, offering to hand over £100,000 for every test drilling operation undertaken and one per cent of any revenue generated if gas is found and extracted.

Anti-fracking campaigners believe the controversial mining technique can cause environmental damage as well as potentially contaminating the water supply.

Gloucestershire was identified as an area under consideration for fracking in a Government report published in December.

Gloucestershire County Councillor Sarah Lunnon (Green, Stroud Central) said: “I certainly understand what Greenpeace is saying. It certainly feels like a way of circumventing opposition to fracking.

“It will also put councils in a very difficult position because they will have to act as the planning authority on fracking applications.

“How can a council be shown to be impartial in making its decision when it will have a financial incentive to let fracking go ahead?

“It is a crying shame that the Government hasn’t been able to offer incentives for renewable energy.”

The Local Government Association, the organisation which represents hundreds of councils across England, said it is vital communities are not “short changed” by fracking.

It said the one per cent revenue offering from the mining industry is “not good enough”, calling for it to be upped to something closer to a 10 per cent contribution.

The Government’s business rates proposal would see councils pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds of extra cash.

David Cameron said his Government is going “all out” for shale gas extraction.

Alan Bently, acting strategic development manager at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “There are currently no planning applications for fracking in Gloucestershire.

“If an application were to be received, we would validate it, publicise it, and carry out a statutory consultation.

“A report would then be presented to our planning committee where a decision would be made.”

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  • Richardburton  |  January 13 2014, 7:08PM

    Let the councillors and MP's have it outside their homes.. then the rest of us will think about it! Oh well ... bang goes the planet!!

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  • Scorpio2010  |  January 13 2014, 6:31PM

    Perhaps Mr Camoron would be advised to have a look at the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010.

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