FURIOUS anti-fracking campaigners hit out after prime minister David Cameron promised millions of pounds more in tax revenue to councils giving the green light to shale gas schemes.
Campaigners at Fernhurst, where a plan for exploratory drilling has been submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority, said the ‘carrot’ was clearly intended to create a ‘conflict of interest’ for mineral planning authorities already struggling with financial cuts.
And at Kirdford and Wisborough Green where another plan is due to be debated by West Sussex County Council, protesters slammed the ‘dishonest and anti-democracic’ government claiming it was not the Prime Minister’s job to ‘sell off our land to the highest bidder for short term alleged gain.’
Earlier this week the prime minister said local authorities would receive 100 per cent of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes rather than the usual 50 per cent.
The move is part of an ‘all out’ drive to exploit the controversial pressure mining technique, which the government believes could generate billions of pounds for the economy, support 74,000 jobs, and lower energy costs.
Whitehall officials have said the business rates commitment would mean mineral planning authorities hanging on to up to £1.7 million extra a year from each fracking site.
They stressed that the mining industry had already pledged to give communities £100,000 for each test drilling - and a further one per cent of the revenues if shale gas is discovered.