The chancellor supports fracking in his Autumn Statement (again)
According to reports
Communities close to fracking projects to get another £1bn chancellor Philip Hammond announces in Autumn Statement
Of course this isn’t really “another” £1bn – It’s the same £1bn they were wafting about earlier in the year and which was also announced in last year’s Autumn Statement – the £1bn that doesn’t actually exist and can only exist if the fracking companies can actually extract the gas for less than the cost at which they can sell it, which is by no means certain or even likely.
The statement actually says:
Shale Wealth Fund – Following a consultation to ensure local communities share in the benefits of shale production, the Shale Wealth Fund will provide up to £1 billion of additional resources to local communities, over and above industry schemes and other sources of government funding. Local communities will benefit first and determine how the money is spent in their area.
Were we shocked? Well, no, as the Chancellor of the moment is much given to supporting fracking as we can see below. It has been a feature of every Autumn Statement of the last 5 years:
In 2012 we had
Chancellor shows fracking support in Autumn Statement
The government has given a clear indication that the controversial gas extraction technique fracking is to get the green light.
In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne laid out plans for tax breaks for the industry and a new government office to look after shale gas.
In 2013 it was
Mr Osborne announced a new tax allowance to encourage investment in shale gas that will see tax rates on early profits halved.
In 2014 we had
The government is taking steps to ensure that the UK leads the way with shale gas regulation. Shale gas could increase the UK’s energy security, support thousands of jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and generate substantial tax revenue.
The government will therefore provide a new £5 million fund to provide independent evidence directly to the public
about the robustness of the existing regulatory regime. This will also ensure the public is better engaged in the regulatory process.
In 2015 it was
AUTUMN STATEMENT 2015 IN BRIEF: The key points of George Osborne’s speech at a glance
..a new Shale Wealth Fund of up to £1billion for communities affected by fracking industry.
[er wasn’t that the same £1 bn Mr Hammond announced as a new fund today?]
So there we are – Chancellors like shale gas as it holds out the prospects of fiscal receipts without the government having to invest much if anything – they just have to promise comfortable tax regimes and waffle about robust regulation whilst decimating the departments charged with enforcing it.
No surprises, but no progress for the frackers either. If the consultation document is anything to go by the plans to distribute this putative fund are as muddled as they ever were. But it’ll probably never be there to be distributed so it’s all hypothetical anyway. Ah well!