Cuadrilla Resources has pledged to be “a good neighbour” and pay a “community benefit” of £100,000 for each exploration wellhead where fracking takes place in
Cuadrilla Resources has pledged to be “a good neighbour” and pay a “community benefit” of £100,000 for each exploration wellhead where fracking takes place in Lancashire.
The announcement comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said councils which give the green light to hydraulic fracturing projects would be allowed to keep millions of pounds in tax revenue.
Mr Cameron said local authorities in England would receive 100 per cent, rather than the usual 50 per cent, of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes.
But environmentalists accused ministers of trying to “bribe” local authorities into accepting fracking, which uses high-pressure liquid to fracture rock and extract the gas in it.
Wyre and Preston MP Ben Wallace, who has campaigned for a greater proportion of the revenue from shale gas to be kept in Lancashire, welcomed the community benefit scheme, but branded the Government’s business rates offer as “crumbs”.
He said: “There is potentially £266bn of extractable gas in the Bowland shale and it is only right that Lancashire gets to keep a sizeable proportion of the profits.
“The Government will eventually take 62 per cent tax on a gas pad, which could amount to billions. Many of us feel that the Treasury should take a little less and the county get a little more.
“Giving back £850,000 pounds of business rates is welcome because it shows the Treasury accepts that shale gas revenues can be hypothecated. But the money on offer is crumbs compared to what they will take.”
The controversial process has raised concerns over inappropriate development and disturbance in rural areas and fears of minor earthquakes and water pollution.
Cuadrilla said the Community Foundation for Lancashire would run the pilot scheme, managing community benefit funds at upcoming Cuadrilla shale gas exploration sites.
Meanwhile Garstang based chartered surveyors and valuers Armitstead Barnett raises the issue of fracking in its current Winter Journal newsletter, saying it would not be a “golden ticket” for landowners because any gas and minerals belong to the Crown.
It says feasibility studies are now being carried out in areas such as the Wyre and notes: “The landowner will, however, receive a commercial rent for the occupation and use of their land.”
The company notes landowners are not the only ones to potentially benefit from shale gas extraction, as Cuadrilla is obliged to install a large number of ground monitoring bore holes within and around the locality of well sites.
It says it has been “instrumental in the discussions about payments and terms of these bore holes.”
Acknowledging that everything was still subject to the county council giving planning permission for any likely fracking sites it predicted that, given Government indications: “Our Lancashire landscapes might look a bit different in ten years’ time.”
l Cuadrilla has a permanent site at Elswick, near Preston, which was hydraulically fractured in 1993.
It has carried out exploratory test drilling at four temporary sites near Preston, including Banks, Singleton, Weeton and Westby.
The company began drilling at Preese Hall in Weeton in 2010, but said no further work would take place after two earth tremors in 2011. It has also decided not to progress at its Anna’s Road site in Westby. Testing and analysis continues at Grange Hill in Singleton and Becconsall near Banks. The firm got temporary permission for a Kirkham site in 2010, but there are currently no plans to undertake exploration there.