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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

UK fracking firm accused of 'bribing' land and property owners

Demonstrators carry placards as they gather for
an anti-fracking protest in London.
(AFP Photo / Ben Stansall)
RT | Sep 29, 2014

Activists accuse fracking firm Ineos of taking a “bribes and bulldozers” approach to shale gas exploration in the UK, as it offers affected landlords and communities a 6 percent future profit share.

In a bid to replicate the industry’s progress in the US, where the sharing of shale gas profits is commonplace, Ratcliffe hopes to incentivize landowners and residents to agree to fracking in their neighbourhoods.

“We think this is a game changer for Britain,” Ratcliffe said in a company statement. “Giving 6 percent of the revenues to those living above our shale gas operations will give them a real stake in the success of the venture and encourage the development of the whole shale gas industry”.

His offer would amount to £375 million for residents in an exploration area over the lifetime of the project, divided between £250 million for homeowners and landowners directly above the wells and £125 million for nearby communities.

Ineos calculates that each of the 200 wells in an exploration area would generate £1.3 million for home and land owners and £600,000 for the community.

The offer to locals is more generous than the 1 percent figure the industry has already committed to.

Landowners, environmental groups and a stricter planning system have delayed the fracking agenda in the UK.

Jim Ratcliffe.(AFP Photo / Ed Jones)
“This is just more of the same bribes and bulldozers approach that has already proved a failure,” Simon Clydesdale, UK energy campaigner at Greenpeace, told the Guardian.

“With one hand the fracking industry goads the government into steamrolling people’s right to oppose fracking under their homes, with the other it offers cash incentives.

“The industry forgets people have legitimate concerns about fracking that won’t be easily assuaged by cash sweeteners. The simple fact that the shale lobby can’t win the argument on safety but has to buy up consensus instead will help convince people that nothing good will come from letting the frackers through the door”.

Opponents of the technique say fracking uses a huge amount of water and potentially allows carcinogenic chemicals to escape and contaminate groundwater near the site.

Supporters say environmental concerns relate to bad practice, rather than an inherently risky process. They also say it could create thousands of jobs and make the UK self-sufficient in energy production.

The UK government intends to allow fracking companies to drill under people's land without their agreement.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it will press ahead with proposals to simplify underground access for oil and gas developers.

The government says the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

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