Business groups welcome latest shale incentive

Suzie Neuwirth
BUSINESS groups and industry players yesterday welcomed the government’s move to give greater financial benefits to local communities hosting shale gas exploration sites.

Councils can now keep 100 per cent of business rates from the sites, double the current 50 per cent figure. The government claims this increase will be worth up to £1.7m per year for a typical site.

The Confederation of British Industry said shale gas has “a vital role to play in diversifying our energy mix and the government is right to make investment more attractive”.

However it also warned that the energy source would not be a “silver bullet” for the UK’s energy issues.

Andrew Austin, chief executive of shale gas explorer IGas, told City A.M. that the move was “a very good step forward” for the industry.

But critics claim the controversial hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – technique used to extract the gas causes earth tremors and will destroy communities.

Jane Thomas, campaigner at environmental group Friends of the Earth, said the government’s move “raises potentially serious concerns about conflicts of interest” and could influence councils when deciding on planning applications from fracking firms.

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