Local councils get bigger slice of fracking cash

SHALE GAS exploration was given a further boost by the government today, as local councils were told that they could keep 100 per cent of business rates from developed sites.

The increase from the current 50 per cent figure could be worth up to £1.7m per year for a typical site, the government claims.

“This is very, very good news for the industry and local councils,” Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group, told City A.M. “It is a significant move.”

Research from the Institute of Directors shows that shale gas investment could reach £3.7bn a year and support 74,000 jobs.

Companies such as Cuadrilla and IGas have already begun exploratory drilling at UK sites. But environmental campaigners are opposed to shale gas due to the fracking technique used, which they claim causes earth tremors.

Labour’s shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex warned that the government needed to fully address “legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking” to reassure the public.

The government confirmed tax breaks for shale gas in December’s Autumn Statement and said local communities would receive £100,000 and one per cent of revenue from successful projects.

A Local Government Association spokesman said today’s move was “a step in the right direction” but argued that more could be done to compensate local communities.

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