A group of residents in Lancashire will soon receive £2,070 each for living near a fracking site, in the first payments made direct to British householders by a shale gas company.
Cuadrilla said that 29 households within a 1km radius of the site would get the payment as part of a £100,000 community benefit fund for the second well it is drilling at a site between Blackpool and Preston that has attracted ongoing anti-fracking protests.
People in a further 259 properties who live between 1km and 1.5kms away are eligible for a £150 payment, after locals told a consultation they would like the benefit directly rather than have the money paid into a community fund.
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said: “Our shale gas exploration work continues to progress in Lancashire, helping to strengthen the county’s economy with more than £4.7m invested in the county since operations began, and now nearly 300 households will directly benefit from our community payments.”
The community benefit of £100,000 per well is higher than the industry’s agreed standard of £100,000 per site. But at least one resident will be refusing what he said was “shabby behaviour” by Cuadrilla.
John Tootill, who owns nearby Maple Farm Nursery within 1km of the site and has supported anti-fracking campaigners, said: “It is absolutely the most appalling thing. How can you give money to compensate for affecting people’s health and spoiling their environment?
“What we want is our health. It’s just blood money really, because no amount of money can compensate for somebody’s health being affected. You can’t buy health. Most certainly I wouldn’t take it.”
Keith Taylor, a Green party MEP for the south-east, said: “These proposals are immoral and tantamount to bribery. Britain and the world is on course to miss climate targets. Kickbacks won’t keep catastrophic climate change at bay.”
The payments are separate to the government’s promise of “frackpot” payments of up to £10,000 per household living near a shale well, if and when the industry ramps up from its exploration phase into commercial production.
Cuadrilla is currently drilling the first of two wells it has permission for at the Preston New Road facility, and is expected to begin fracking at the end of the year, or in early 2018.
Third Energy, which is on the verge of fracking at a well near the village of Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, said local groups and charities would soon be able to bid for a share of a £100,000 community fund.