‘Don’t bribe us with cheap energy bills’ say Welsh anti-fracking activists

‘Don’t bribe us with cheap energy bills’ say Welsh anti-fracking activists by Aled Blake, April 29, 2013
Incentives for people living near planned controversial fracking projects – including slashed energy bills – have been condemned as “bribery” by a South Wales campaigner. The Financial Times today reported the UK Government is considering cheaper household energy bills for people in the area. The House of Commons energy select committee said on Friday that communities affected by shale-gas projects “should expect to receive, and share in, some of the benefits of development”. It suggested that local authorities hosting shale ventures should also be allowed to retain business rates. The system would be similar to the “planning gain” whereby councils that give planning permission to property developments can force the developer to pay for certain infrastructure improvements, such as roads and schools. … No fracking operations are planned in Wales – but a gas test drilling project is set to start in Llandow, in the Vale of Glamorgan later this year which some environmentalist fear cold lead to a full-scale fracking operation. Louise Evans, founder of the Vale Says No campaign, which opposed the Llandow test drilling plan, said: “This is obvious bribery. The worrying thing is that people might accept these inducements in the short term but not look at the long term implications for the environment and the damage that could be done. We will continue to oppose fracking operations in this area, with or without sweeteners.” The Welsh Government has said that further investigations into fracking are required before any such incentives could be examined. A spokesman said: “UK shale gas development is still at an early and exploratory stage and the commercial viability and wider impacts of this resource remain unknown.”

Rob Thomas, the Vale council’s director of development services said: “We will continue to monitor the debate, given the significant public interest in fracking within the Vale of Glamorgan. …  However, the suggestion that there could be cash incentives in an attempt to reduce opposition to fracking seems to take this a stage further and would give cause for concern.” … Gerwyn Williams, a director of Bridgend-based Coastal Oil and Gas, which will test drill at Llandow, said he was in “corporate negotiations” and could not comment. [Emphasis added]

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