Government to offer cheaper energy bills to communities that don’t oppose fracking


Government to offer cheaper energy bills to communities that don’t
oppose fracking

Rural communities could be offered cheaper energy bills in return for
dropping opposition to local fracking projects, according to plans being
drawn up by the Government.

Alice Philipson, Telegraph On-line, 29th April 2013

As part of plans to push ahead with the controversial practice, where by
shale gas is forced out of the ground by blasting water into rocks, the
coalition is considering a range of sweeteners for local communities.

While the biggest incentive would be cheaper household energy bills,
communities who agree to shale-gas extraction in their area could also
be offered funding for new sports club or community centres and other
local amenities, according to the Financial Times.

The proposals will form part of the Government’s paper on “community
benefits”, which will aim to convince people in northwest and southeast
England to drop opposition to fracking.

Environmentalists claim the hydraulic fracturing involved in the process
causes earthquakes and contaminates drinking water.

There is also concern that methane escapes during drilling and burning
the fuel releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But on Friday the House of Commons energy select committee hinted those
affected by fracking projects “should expect to receive, and share in,
some of the benefits of development”.

Local authorities which allow fracking projects may also be allowed to
retain business rates, it suggested.

In last month’s budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced a number of
incentives to encourage companies to start fracking including tax breaks
on the profits from shale gas fields, especially in the early stages of
extraction to encourage them to drill.

He also said that communities should receive “benefits” to encourage
them to allow fracking, though he did not say if the money would come
from the company profits or the Government. “Shale gas is part of the
future and we will make it happen,” he said.

The proposals forming par of the “community benefits” paper set out for
the first time how rural populations may benefit.

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change, set up to advise the
Government on how to meet a legally-binding target to cut greenhouse
gases by 80 per cent by 2050, aid last week that shale gas can be part
of the energy mix and should be allowed to meet heating demand and as a
back up for intermittent technologies like wind.

David Kennedy, chief executive of the committee, said as long as
regulations are in place to stop methane leaking, he said shale gas will
have lower emissions than liquefied natural gas which are imported from

He said: “UK shale gas may play a useful role substituting for imported
gas in meeting demand for heat, and for gas-fired generation to balance
the system.”

A similar policy is currently in place for wind farms, where by
communities will be offered rewards such as new playgrounds for hosting
the technology in their area.

Posted on: April 30, 2013