by: Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) Britain’s new Prime Minister is considering a modification of its “shale wealth fund” to enable direct payment to individual households near fracking sites rather than to communities – a move that has been described as “bribery” by environmentalists who oppose fracking.
PM Theresa May announced her plan days before a consultation on the shale wealth fund, which was established by ex-chancellor George Osborne. The fund was designed to benefit local communities through using a percentage of the proceeds from UK fracking operations.
Under the original plan, communities impacted by fracking would have received up to 10 percent of the proceeds from fracking operations, but under May’s scheme, individual households would receive up to £10,000 instead.
May said that her modification of the funding plan will benefit “ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise.”
“It’s about making sure people personally benefit from economic decisions that are taken – not just councils – and putting them back in control over their lives,” she added.
But green campaigners see the move as a bribe designed to coerce the public into accepting fracking – an industry associated with enormous health and environmental risks, and one that has been widely opposed in Britain.
As reported by the BBC:
“Mike Hill, an anti-fracking campaigner from Lancashire, said it was ‘absolutely outrageous’ the government was now trying to ‘overrule’ local communities who may have previously rejected fracking.
“And Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth said: ‘Local people won’t suddenly be bribed into accepting this unpopular practice, which poses risks to people and the environment.'”
Fracking vs. clean power
Barry Gardiner, shadow minister for the natural environment and fisheries, accused May of backing a “dirty” energy technology that would actually cost more than renewable, clean sources of energy such as wind and solar power.
“We need to question why Theresa May is trying to lock us in to a dirty fossil fuel infrastructure for the next 30 years rather than backing the clean technologies of the future,” Gardiner said.
The charges that the modification of the shale wealth fund are essentially a bribe is evidenced by the fact that no such payments are being offered to those living near wind farms.
“Appealing to people’s higher nature, Theresa May gives a £10,000-plus bribe if you live near a frack site. If you live near a wind farm, nothing … The asymmetry is amazing,” according to Gardiner.
Green Party representatives described May’s plan as “misguided policy,” while Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist said that the PM should “reverse the policies that have harmed our vibrant clean energy sector, and back the technologies that can supply cheap, home-grown energy for decades to come.”
It’s not entirely clear why the new PM would be so keen on promoting the highly controversial and unpopular fracking industry, and one can’t help but wonder if there hasn’t been something akin to bribery occurring at the highest levels of the British establishment; certainly it can be assumed that the industry has done everything it could to influence the government, as it has in the United States and elsewhere.
Even if May’s revision of the plan is implemented, it will be years before anyone will receive any money from the fund. On Monday, August 8, it was revealed that householders will have to wait until fracking operations have been established – which means no cash will be paid to households for at least five years after exploration begins.
It remains to be seen whether May’s scheme will be implemented. Meanwhile, opposition to fracking in the UK continues to grow; the latest polls show that only 19 percent of the population actually support fracking, while nearly a third oppose the practice.