2013 Spring Budget Boost For Frackers
The big UK fracking story of the week was on 20th March, the budget speech by George Osborne. After exempting the pottery industry amongst others from the Climate Change Levy, and announcing more subsidies for the declining North Sea industry he said:
“But I also want Britain to tap into new sources of low cost energy like shale gas. So I am introducing a generous new tax regime, including a shale gas field allowance, to promote early investment. And by the summer, new planning guidance will be available alongside specific proposals to allow local communities to benefit. Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.”
When the industry has repeatedly said they do not need financial incentives, only a clear government policy, we are left to wonder why Osborne continues to squander taxpayers’ money.
Regarding local communities, what Osborne said reinforced what minister John Hayes had trailered earlier, that local communities would be bribed to encourage them to “host” fracking. There could be no clearer indication that firstly the government accepts that there is local opposition. And rather than rely on good sense and argument, they want to just buy their way through the problem. Moreover the ploy is an admission that fracking WILL damage local communities.
Throwing money at the problem is, of course, exactly what Lord Browne promised he would do the previous week.
In a well-argued article Bridgend Greens declared Osborne had thrown down the Fracking gauntlet and the gloves were now off. The article pointed out that in 2010 gas, oil and coal prices were subsidised by £3.63bn, according to OECD. This compared with £0.7bn for on- and off-shore wind and only £1.4bn in total for all renewables.
Thomas McCaffrey, secretary of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN), dismissed proposals for tax relief to encourage shale gas extraction as ill-conceived and unfairly weighted over other energy forms.
In Belfast environment minister Alex Attwood, was less moderate, blustering that the Treasury did not determine what planning and environmental requirements are in Northern Ireland., which were entirely for NI to assess, and he had earlier made it clear there would be no “headlong rush into fracking”. He pointed out that many research projects were in progress, both in Europe and the USA, which needed completion and evaluation before any thought was given as to how or whether to proceed.
This article is syndicated from the http://www.frackingdigest.co.uk/ web site and is reproduced with thanks.