Graphic: Council leaders mixed views on fracking potential for Norfolk and the Fens

Picture shows f Alan Melton , leader of Fenland District Council.; For EDP News Picture shows f Alan Melton , leader of Fenland District Council.; For EDP News

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
6:30 AM

A way of plugging the black hole in local council finances or a bribe? Political editor Annabelle Dickson asks how fracking applications would go down with our local councils.

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What is fracking?What is fracking?

David Cameron has bullishly declared “we’re going all out for shale” pledging to allow councils who give projects the green-light millions of pounds more in tax revenues.

With a recently published Department for Energy and Climate Change map showing that much of the top half of Norfolk, and parts of the Fens, could be sitting on shale, some councils in our region may have to weigh up this offer.

Unsurprisingly opponents of the controversial shale gas policy, known as “fracking”, have branded it a bribe, and Eastern region Green Rupert Read, said it was a “disgrace” that councils were being offered tax revenues while renewable energy was being “starved of cash”.

But leaders of local authorities have not been completely dismissive. Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton said companies wanting to explore the area would be “more than welcome”.

Your views

whimsie73: We are an island, surrounded by water, so why is the UK not using this natural resource for its energy? The last few weeks alone will serve to show the power of the sea around us. Instead we will allow the french to come over and cause mayhem wherever greedy councils give permission, whilst fracking remains banned in France due to environmental concerns! It seems that UK citizens are not worth consideration once again.

Panic: Bring on the fracking now. If we wish to keep heating our homes and driving our cars and all the other things we require from fossil fuels then fracking is a must. People moan because the price of oil and gas is so high and the same people mone about fracking. Well to all the people who do not want fracking. Stop using fossil fuels and then we will not need to frack. No buses no cars no heating, and before people say green energy, well that’s not gone very well over the last 25 years had it and it not for the want of trying.

Peter Watson: No amount of money should persuade a democratically elected local council to effectively ignore the interests of their residents.

Steve Gordon: Cameron cannot be trusted on this matter - this is bribery, being done on behalf of the industry. He has clearly been lobbied very heavily - as it was recently revealed he and his mates were by the alcohol industry to back down on minimum pricing. Google ‘fracking’ and read the horror stories coming out of the US about fracking waste, groundwater pollution etc. No to bribery, no to fracking - another finite resource. Yes to renewable wind, solar and tidal power.

He said: “We are a sparse community and it could be accessed well away from communities. The only concern that I would have is that the road infrastructure around the Fens would need improving.

He said that the money raised through fracking for the council would be “ploughed straight back into the community” into infrastructure and other capital projects.

He added: “Let’s be realistic about it. We are all totally dependent on fuel imports for our supplies from volatile countries.

“North sea oil is running out. The burning of coal is unacceptable, wind turbines are unreliable. We need flexibility of supply. “We have got to look at future generations. The only other alternative is nuclear fuel. I’ve always been a great believer of a ‘mixed bag’ energy supply - wind, oil, wave.”

Broadland District Council leader Andrew Proctor was more cautious, but said all options needed to be looked at.

“If we look at the way local government is financed, such as reduced grants, if there are opportunities to gain more income then we need to look at them, but we need to look at all things very carefully.

“We need to look at the planning, the community issues and what the benefits are overall.”

Tom Fitzpatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council said that they would be “very very cautious” about any move as the area was very dependent on tourism.

He added that there had been no applications in this area.

But Greens in the east of England have condemned the government’s new offer of financial incentives to local councils who allow fracking to go ahead, saying it brought “the danger of this unpopular and highly polluting industry closer to East Anglia”.

Dr Read, who is the Green Party’s lead candidate in the east for this year’s Euro elections, said it was a “disgrace” that the government was bending over backward to “bribe people into accepting fracking”.

He visited the Orbis Energy Centre in Lowestoft to meet wave and tidal power companies yesterday and said: “Every penny of subsidy to fracking is a penny stolen from the pockets of the likes of us, living here in the east. “And the only way we could get in on the cash would be to trash the north of Norfolk, which is the last thing any sane person would want to do.”

But Mr Cameron said: “A key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future is to back businesses with better infrastructure.

“That’s why we’re going all out for shale. It will mean more jobs and opportunities for people, and economic security for our country”.

The Prime Minister said local authorities in England would receive 100% of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes - rather than the usual 50%.

The Government believes it could generate billions of pounds for the economy, support 74,000 jobs, and lower energy costs.

14 comments

  • Ingo, put your shoes away and have a sit down. Re-read the comments and try and find something personal. Anti green yes, but not personal. I'm assuming you are green from your response though? The greens cost us a fortune through their mis guided and holier than though attitude.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Nuclear Power is the only clean way forward given the demand placed on supply.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I stand by my deleted anti green comment, it was everything to do with the issue.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • In the absence of Mary Robinson perhaps Mr Watson would like to explain how we can keep our transport systems running, heat our homes offices and hospitals while keeping the lights on and generally do what a 21st century country does whilst keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

  • John, I like your line of thinking...

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I have read green policies for many years and came to the conclusion years back that they are little more than Marxists using the environment as a political vehicle for international socialism. As such I feel they exert an above their station influence on energy strategy. Like any political party wether Tory or {so called} Labour they must be prepared to be attacked. As for washing my mouth out, I am not the one who is finding the truth unpalatable.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • "World governments must get used to the idea of leaving fossil fuel reserves in the ground unexploited and unburned".Mary Robinson,former Irish President.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • V - not sure who told you burning coal was unacceptable in UK; burning coal generates almost half our electricity (up from 2010).

    Report this comment

    Ned Harrison

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Sorry... I meant thou.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • The short sightedness of the Council leader stating that the community money will be sunk back into local projects. The recent Governmental tax incentives are a bribe and the money now will never compensate for what devastation unconventional gas extraction will bring to the area. No bribe will cover the cost of poisoned water aquifers, the churned up roads and infrastructure damage, or the effects to wildlife and countryside. It's mass industrialisation and when the gas is fracked the corporation will leave with no commitment to clearing up and storing the millions of gallons of frack waste which will then be put to the tax payer to fund the clean up and storage. The rest of the toxic waste is left in the wells and over time seeps into the water supply..... no money will un-poison the water. It is toxic forever. The 100's of heavy duty trucks and tankers coming and going belching fumes and traffic congestion at all times adds to the pollution and costs to the community. The prospect of local jobs is far behind, as most if not all jobs are from within the industry and the local job creation is minimal. The fracking process is toxic and has no social licence in the UK.

    Report this comment

    E. Benzene

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

  • Shale deposits in Norfolk are said to be shallow, not as deep as those in the North west and east, or in the Shire counties, so the drillers mighnt want to go for the most lucrative despoilation possible. To answer V's question, its because the CO2 permits are cheap as chips and hence, can be bought by countries. Its what our vested interest party politicians have decided to set up and it does not work. Cheap permits are the reson why Germany is burning brown dirty coal by the bucket load.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • FDC's Alan Melton. Why is burning coal acceptable in other countries of the world (including Europe) but not in this country ?????

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Why is fracking banned in France and yet Cameron is happy to allow a French company to exploit us in this country? As a council tax payer I would demand that our elected Councillors consult those who vote for them on this crucial matter.

    Report this comment

    la barbe

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I have reported your comment, John Bridge, as being personal vitriol and without addressing the issue. Now go and wash your mouth out.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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