Cuadrilla to Pay Households near Fracking Sites
UK shale gas firm Cuadrilla will begin making the country’s first-ever payments to a £100,000 community benefit fund for households near its fracking sites. The company said 29 households within a 1 km radius of the second well it is drilling between Blackpool and Preston in Lancashire will receive £2,070 each.
Residents of an additional 259 properties who live 1-1.5 km away from the site will be eligible for a £150 payment. Some of the beneficiaries have opted to receive the payout directly rather than through a community fund, Cuadrilla said. The community benefit the company is offering is reportedly higher than the industry’s agreed standard of £100,000 per site.
As its shale gas operations continue to progress in Lancashire, Cuadrilla’s CEO, Francis Egan, said nearly 300 households will directly benefit from the company’s community payments, which are separate from the national government’s pledge to pay up to £10,000 per household whenever commercial production begins.
By its own account, Cuadrilla, which is currently drilling the first of two wells it has permits for at Preston New Road, has spent £4.7 million on shale gas exploration in the UK to date. The company said it expects to begin fracking at the end of this year or in early 2018.
Another potential fracker, Third Energy, which plans to begin drilling a well near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire as soon as it receives its government license, has announced that local groups and charities will soon be able to bid for a share of a £100,000 community fund it is backing.
Like Ineos, which has its holding’s headquarters in Switzerland, the two UK-based firms continue to face strong local opposition. Ineos cited protests at Cuadrilla’s sites as justification for seeking an injunction prohibiting “unlawful acts” by protestors at its shale gas exploration sites.
After two reviews in the UK’S High Court, the injunction will remain in place until a judge makes a final decision, at an undetermined date.
Anti-fracking activists have criticized what they describe as the injunction’s “draconian” penalties. Slow walking in front of vehicles to delay deliveries to an exploration site, for example, carries a £1,000 fine. The maximum penalty for contempt of court in a shale protest is two years in prison.
Ineos also has proposed payouts to households near fracking sites if and when its activities progress beyond geological surveys. Although it holds the greatest number of UK exploration licenses, the group has yet does not hold a single fracking permit.
Some residents of households that would benefit from Cuadrilla’s offer have refused to accept the money. John Tootill, owner of a tree nursery within 1 km of the site, is quoted in the UK press as calling the payments “blood money,” as “no amount of money can compensate for somebody’s health being affected.”
Keith Taylor, a member of Parliament for the Green party party, has called the Cuadrilla proposals “immoral and tantamount to bribery”. With Britain and the world are on course to miss climate targets, he said ”kickbacks won’t keep catastrophic climate change at bay.”