Bassetlaw: MP challenges PM over fracking ‘boost’

NEWS: The Gainsborough Standard
NEWS: The Gainsborough Standard

Protesters have gathered at the gates of a gas site near Gainsborough where the Prime Minister is visiting today (Monday 13th January 2014).

David Cameron was at IGas near Beckingham to launch an incentive aimed at encouraging councils to allow fracking.

The Government has pledged to give local authorities 100 per cent of business rates collected from the controversial drilling sites, rather than the current 50 per cent.

Fracking is a method of extracting underground shale gas by drilling through the earth’s surface.

Gas stored inside the rock is released by forcing cracks using a high-pressure mix of sand, water and chemicals.

It has attracted controversy because of worries about the potential for earth tremors, environmental damage and water contamination.

Mr Cameron’s announcement comes on the same day oil and gas giant Total invested a million pounds in a fracking scheme near Gainsborough.

It will own 40 per cent shares in licences currently held by several companies, including IGas, to exploit gas reserves in the so-called Gainsborough Trough.

The licenced area spans 240 square km and extends underneath much of Bassetlaw from Beckingham towards Retford in the south to Misterton, Bircotes and Bawtry in the north.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann joined protestors at the gates of IGas this morning where he demanded to speak to Mr Cameron.

He accused the Prime Minister of ‘backtracking’ over earlier claims that communities could gain millions of pounds if fracking went ahead.

“He is now saying that this will be a financial gain for local councils over the lifetime of the exploitation of a shale gas site,” said Mr Mann.

“I demand that he meets with me now and he gives me the real figures on how this local community will financially benefit from a fracking site in their neighbourhood.”

“I am concerned that Mr Cameron is over egging the pudding. This Beckingham site currently pays just under £93,000 per year in business rates and it is already fracking for oil. This is nowhere near the promised figure of £1.7 million and in my view is wildly optimistic and is within the upper reaches of what only the largest fracking sites will have to pay.”

“We must ensure that local communities reap the benefits from sites such as these and announcements like this must not see them short changed.”

IGas Energy boss Andrew Austin said: “The future development of natural gas has the potential to create thousands of jobs, generate significant tax revenues, reduce our ever increasing reliance on imported coal and gas and make a positive contribution to the country’s balance of payments.”

“As operator, we will be embarking on a stakeholder programme in the area which will involve extensive community engagement.”

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