ANTI-fracking campaigners have criticised an announcement a “generous tax regime” could be put in place for shale gas firms – despite the technique still being suspended.
The news from chancellor George Osborne is seen as the clearest indication yet the government will give controversial fracking the green-light, and has been slammed by activists.
Cuadrilla Resources is currently carrying out exploratory drilling at its Anna’s Road site in Westby but is unable to frack after it was suspended following earthquakes caused by fracking in Weeton last year.
And a spokesman from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) said: “Osborne’s announcement is a clear indication that this government is determined to pursue a speedy and reckless ‘dash for gas policy’ and we can expect another announcement soon giving the go-ahead for fracking to resume.
“The Fylde is the testing ground for the rest of the UK. Its residents are still unprotected, the regulatory bodies are still confused about who is responsible for what, and no-one in this government is listening.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has the final say on whether fracking can resume, and an announcement is expected imminently. An initial report, which went out to public consultation, suggested it would be allowed to resume with stringent new conditions.
Engineer Mike Hill, who independently advised Fylde Council’s shale gas committee, said: “The Fylde coast is about to enter a nightmare from which we may well never recover, not health wise, not environmentally and not financially.
“There will be 15-20 long term jobs but there will be no tourists and house prices will collapse.”
Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground at high speed to fracture the shale rock and release gas, and Cuadrilla Resources – currently carrying out exploratory drilling in Westby – hope to be able to operate on an industrial scale in the Fylde.