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 £30million 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.
A ‘good neighbour’ payment of £100,000 will be made for each exploration wellhead where hydraulic fracturing takes place.
Mr Cameron said shale exploration would ‘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.”
Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment could mean up to £1.7million extra a year for councils affected.
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 bids.”
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. ”
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.”