Lancashire communities need 10% fracking profit-share, say MPs

Communities affected by fracking in Lancashire must get a bigger share of its profits, a group of cross-party MPs and five council leaders has demanded.

In a letter to David Cameron, the group said a 10% share of profits from shale gas sites would be reasonable.

Communities where fracking may take place are currently being offered a 1% share.

On Monday, the government said councils may keep all the business tax earned from fracking, rather than 50%.

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is a technique where water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract shale gas.

Campaigners claim the process is harmful to the environment.

'Industry champions'

Lawrence Carter, of Greenpeace, has also accused ministers of trying to "bribe councils" with the business tax boost "to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy".

The letter, written by a group of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs and five councils, said the 1% share does "not go nearly far enough".

It said: "Where our constituents' concerns can be mitigated and if we collectively feel some direct benefits we will not to stand in the way.

"Indeed, many of us will become champions of the industry. Shale gas has the potential to give us a second industrial revolution and to rebalance Britain's economic output."

However, the collective said without some "significant retention" of the revenues for communities it would "find it difficult to support further development in Lancashire".

"We welcome the initial steps towards giving communities a share of some of the proceeds of fracking but this doesn't go nearly far enough," they said.

Lib Dem MP for Burnley Gordon Birtwistle, Conservative MP for Wyre and Preston North, Ben Wallace, Labour MP for Blackburn Jack Straw, Lancaster and Fleetwood Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Bury North David Nuttall MP and Labour MP for Hyndburn Graham Jones.

County councillor Mike Jones leader of Cheshire West County Council, Labour councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, councillor Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council, councillor David Eaves leader of Fylde Council and councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley District Council also signed the letter.

Temporary ban

The letter also states the Local Government Association (LGA) submitted a report to the government seeking 10% of revenues from shale gas production for local communities in August in order to secure "real strategic and additional advantage for the area".

Cuadrilla Energy Resources has licences to test-drill for shale gas in Lancashire, at sites in Weeton (Preese Hall), Anna's Road also known as Westby, Grange Hill, Singleton and Banks, near Southport.

The firm also owns sites in Wharles, Kirkham and Elswick, which was fracked by previous owners.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla's Francis Egan, has estimated that shale gas reserves in Lancashire could have a market value of £136bn.

Fracking was temporarily banned in the UK after the gas extraction process was blamed for two earth tremors near Blackpool, in 2011.

A government report, published in June 2012, then concluded it was safe if adequately monitored.

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