Business people are getting behind controversial plans to let Lancashire householders share a cash pot to help get the shale gas industry going.
Many residents are opposed to the Government’s proposed new cash offer to households to offset the impacts of fracking.
But the move has found support from members of the business community.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is Lancashire’s gas and this is another opportunity for local people to share directly in all the benefits.
“We therefore welcome the Government’s consultation on the Shale Gas Wealth Fund (SGWF). It will allow local communities to decide how they should directly benefit from wealth generated by local shale gas activity.”
Payments from the SGWF are in addition to exploration stage community benefits funding, retention of business rates and shares of production revenue.
In addition to the SGWF and other payments, Lancashire’s businesses will also benefit from Cuadrilla’s investment in the local supply chain.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “The Shale Gas Wealth Fund is a great initiative from this Government to ensure that the communities hosting shale gas developments receive a significant share of the financial benefits of those developments.
“Importantly a public consultation will give control to local communities to say exactly where they would like this money to go.
“It will add to the exploration stage community benefits funding, share of production revenue and of course spending on local goods and services that Cuadrilla will also be putting directly back into Lancashire.”
Cuadrilla says it will put into a community fund £100,000 per exploration well drilled and fracked on each site.
Lee Petts of Preston-based company Resmol said: “I think it’s a very healthy intervention from the new Prime Minister.
“This is Lancashire’s gas and its only right that the people who live here have a chance to share in the benefits, but they should also have a say in how that works.
“This consultation on how the Shale Wealth Fund is used gives people the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, and recognises that not everyone will be comfortable with the monies being handed to community trusts or local councils.
“The fact is that many residents will welcome the chance to benefit directly.
“It’s also important to recognise that the Shale Wealth Fund is in addition to the one per cent of revenues that the industry itself has already pledged to share with host communities.”
Helen Rimmer, North West Campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “Communities in Lancashire and across the UK have made it clear they do not want fracking.
“And desperate bribes from the Government will not change that.
“Residents near proposed sites have done their research and understand the risks to their communities, environment and our climate of a dash for dirty fracking gas, and will not be bought off.”
The Government must stand by Lancashire’s democratic refusal of fracking, and instead support our county to develop a clean renewables industry that would provide more jobs, and tackle climate change at the same time.”
Gas exploration firm Cuadrilla is waiting for the results of its appeal against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse it permission to frack at sites at Roseacre Wood near Elswick and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.