ANTI-FRACKING campaigners have reacted angrily to the Chancellor’s support for shale gas extraction.
George Osborne promised “generous” tax incentives in the shale gas field allowance to encourage investment and help Britain “tap into new sources of low cost energy”. The Budget also outlined new planning guidance and proposals on community benefits would be drawn up this summer.
But Fylde Coast campaigners have hit out. Tina Rothery, of the Resident Action on Fylde Fracking said: “It wasn’t unexpected but I still can’t believe how much the Chancellor has incentivised them, giving more money to an already profitable sector, and nothing on renewables, it’s quite astonishing. We’re very frustrated with the government’s stance but it in no way changes our opposition, we have very serious concerns and this will only make us more determined to fight it.”
Philip Mitchell of Blackpool’s Green Party added: “Instead of generous tax incentives to build hundreds more wells, we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure which will stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for the future.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies welcomed the pledge on new planning guidance and establishment of the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil.
“I have always said that if any activity is to go ahead then it should only be if it is regulated and safe and I was pleased to see that going ahead. The remit of the new office is still being established and I continue to call on the department to ensure independent experts are involved throughout the process.
“During the budget it was good the Chancellor talked about planning regimes and ensuring local community involvement in any decisions.
“If natural gas extraction does go ahead in Fylde, benefits should go to local communities so I was happy to hear that there would be an announcement on this in the summer.”
Francis Egan of Cuadrilla, the company leading exploration across the Fylde, said: “We believe the measures announced will facilitate exploring for and, we trust, extracting shale gas, along with providing long-term benefits to the UK. These would include reducing our reliance on imported gas, creating jobs and generating significant tax revenues.” He also welcomed the provision of specialist planning guidance and pledged to work closely with stakeholders to address concerns and maximise community benefits.
“Cuadrilla will work with the new Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil, Lancashire County Council, local communities and all other parties to realise the potential of shale gas in a safe and responsible manner. We will carry out our work in full accordance with all relevant planning and consultation processes.”