Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

UK ministers consider offering communities fracking sweeteners

By By Jim Pickard, Elizabeth Rigby and Guy Chazan
May 3, 2013 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Environmentalists worry that the process can pollute ground water and cause emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Environmentalists worry that the process can pollute ground water and cause emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ministers prepare to announce UK's shale-gas reserves are much larger than previously estimated
  • Britain's only fracking operation was suspended after two minor earthquakes in 2011
  • Fracking is extraction of gas and oil by pumping water at high pressure into shale rock

(CNN) -- The government is proposing to bribe communities with cheaper energy bills in exchange for dropping opposition to local fracking projects as part of plans to push ahead with shale-gas extraction.

Several options to cajole rural England to accept the contentious drilling schemes are being discussed as ministers prepare to announce that the UK's shale-gas reserves are much larger than previously estimated.

Fracking, an extraction technique that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into shale rock to release trapped pockets of oil and gas, has transformed the US energy market, triggering a production boom that pushed gas prices to 10-year lows last year.

Environmentalists worry that the process can pollute ground water and cause emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

CNN Explains: Fracking

The government's paper on "community benefits" will propose policies that aim to persuade locals to drop their resistance to fracking in northwest and southeast England, where the largest shale-gas deposits are found.

The biggest incentive being discussed by the coalition is cheaper household energy bills for people in the area, according to those familiar with the discussions.

Neighbourhoods could also be offered funding for new sports clubs or community centres and other projects to improve local amenities.

The House of Commons energy select committee said on Friday that communities affected by shale-gas projects "should expect to receive, and share in, some of the benefits of development".

It suggested that local authorities hosting shale ventures should also be allowed to retain business rates.

The system would be similar to the "planning gain" whereby councils that give planning permission to property developments can force the developer to pay for certain infrastructure improvements, such as roads and schools. A separate paper will make a similar proposal for new wind farms.

The government could still face big protests against fracking sites, reminiscent of the widespread grassroots Tory hostility to onshore wind turbines and to the HS2 high-speed railway.

One Conservative MP, Laura Sandys, has said that planning applications for shale-gas drilling will "make onshore wind farms look like a walk in the park".

Britain's only fracking operation, by Cuadrilla Resources near Blackpool, was suspended after two minor earthquakes in 2011. It was allowed to resume last December.

Last year, the government commissioned the British Geological Survey to produce a new estimate of Britain's shale-gas reserves, which is understood to show that they are much larger than previously thought.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT