Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed financial incentives for councils and residents that are affected by fracking — the controversial process of extracting shale gas from the ground.
If the plan goes ahead, local authorities in England will receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes — rather than the standard 50%. Cameron is also in favour of giving compensation to residents who are inconvenienced by the drilling.
Why is fracking so controversial?
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is the process of extracting natural gas that is trapped underground in minute cracks in rocks. It involves drilling deep under the ground and forcing a mixture of water, sand & chemicals into the cracks, which opens them up and releases the gas.
There are concerns about the large amounts of water needed to extract the shale gas as well as the pollution caused by the waste chemicals. Critics also say that it’s unwise to put so many resources into obtaining a fossil fuel when they could be used to develop renewable energy technologies instead.
Supporters argue that the fracking industry creates jobs and will provide energy security in the short-term.
Some critics, including Greenpeace have compared the Prime Minister’s plans to bribery. Lawrence Carter from Greenpeace commented: “Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy.”
David Cameron argues that the UK had the “strongest environmental controls” and “nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers.”
“Shale is important for our country… It could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3bn of investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security.
“I want us to get on board this change that is doing so much good and bringing so much benefit to North America. I want us to benefit from it here as well.”
Some have accused the government of sending out mixed messages, appearing to support de-carbonisation targets whilst also supporting carbon-based energy.
New fracking plans aside the government are still supporting ECO funding, which allows certain people to get free insulation, boilers and other energy saving products. For more information see our energy saving products page.