FRACKING firm Cuadrilla yesterday announced Lancashire communities where it drills for shale gas will get £100,000 each to spend on local projects.
The new deal came as Prime Minister David Cameron said local councils would also receive all the business rates from shale gas schemes rather than half.
French oil giant Total also revealed plans to invest about £30m in fracking in Lincolnshire, the first major energy company to invest in fracking in the UK.
Greenpeace accused the government of ‘bribery’ and said Cuadrilla’s announcement could foreshadow plans to frack in the East of Lancashire as well as the West.
In June the British Geological Survey revealed significant shale gas resources under the M65 corridor across Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.
Cuadrilla has agreed with Accington-based Community Foundation for Lancashire to run a pilot scheme offering community benefit funds at shale gas exploration sites in the county.
A ‘good neighbour’ payment of £100,000 will be made for each exploration wellhead where hydraulic fracturing takes place.
Mr Cameron said: “We're going all-out for shale. It will mean more jobs and opportunities for people, and economic security for our country."
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: "We want local councils and local people to benefit from this exploration. We expect 20 to 40 wells to be drilled in exploration over the next couple of years and I think it's very important that local communities see some of the benefit."
Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment could mean up to £1.7m extra a year for councils affected.
Lawrence Carter from Greenpeace said: “The government is now resorting to straight up bribery. Cuadrilla’s announcement is an indication they are now looking at drilling in the East of Lancashire as well as the West.”
Pendle peer Tony Greaves said: “The government is clearly worried it may not get planning permission to frack. This is an incentive to councils to approve drilling applications.”
Rossendale council leader Alyson Barnes said: “I think it is good that local councils and service could benefit from fracking but any applications must be shown to be safe and sensible before they are approved. ”