Villagers in Torworth and Misson Springs who live near the proposed shale gas development sites may receive individual payments of around £10,000 per house, as estimated by some national newspapers
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has personally intervened to say that affected individuals should “personally benefit from economic decisions”. The consultation paper on the Shale gas Wealth Fund was published on 8 August.“This will be seen as either a bribe or compensation.” Said David Larder, chair of Bassetlaw against Fracking. “If it is a bribe it is a disgraceful way of trying to override local opinion which is overwhelmingly against fracking in this country. If it is compensation, then the government is admitting that fracking will be harmful to communities, and they will need to be compensated”
The Shale Wealth Fund was first proposed in last year’s Autumn Statement. The government then promised to put up to 10% of shale gas tax revenues into a fund which, it said, could deliver up to £1bn of investment in local communities hosting shale gas developments. It was expected that any money received would go to local authorities or community trusts. The government’s proposals are for payments from tax revenues and, therefore, rely on shale site operating companies making a profit and paying tax.
“Already many advantages have been given to the shale gas industry to try and get this dangerous extraction of another fossil fuel kickstarted.” Said Mr Larder. “None of these have worked. Every community approached across the country has opposed the introduction of fracking which will industrialise rural areas. No amount of bribes will be worth the huge number of lorry movements through Blyth, the damage to tourism and agriculture and house price falls which have already taken place.” He added that test fracking itself would be using thousand gallons a day of polluting diesel for the drills and lorries. However, exploratory wells will not qualify for community payments.
He went on to say that it was ironic that at the same time as the Prime Minister’s announcement billions of people across the world had seen at the end of the opening ceremony of the Olympic game graphics showing the impact of global warming and the catastrophic projections of sea rise level. All 11,000 athletes had planted seeds for a new Forest outside Rio de Janeiro. “While climate scientists are predicting that we are already nearly passing the danger level and many countries are stopping new production of fossil fuel energy, the British government is charging in the opposite direction.” Mr Larder said.
He stated that it was not just shale gas methane that had a greater impact than carbon dioxide, but in the Bassetlaw area, the fracking companies involved were proposing to drill right through the aquafier which supplies our drinking water. Recently, Bassetlaw Planning committee decided to propose an exploratory well at Tinker Lane. Its advice will be considered by Notts County Council planning committee when it determines the applications for Misson Springs and Tinker Lane in September. Objections are still being received by the county council.
Mr Larder concluded that with falling gas demand worldwide and prices plunging, local people would be lucky within the 10 year period that will be required to get any meaningful production from hundreds of Wells to even see a penny of the compensation money, because already 80 fracking companies have gone bankrupt. “The fight goes on” Mr Larder asserted.