People living within 1.5km of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire are to share a £100,000 community benefit fund, the company confirmed today.
The decision follows a public consultation with people living locally.
Cuadrilla said 79% of consultation participants from the parish of Westby with Plumptons wanted the money from the site’s second exploration well to go directly to households nearby.
But only 250 of the 741 eligible households (34%) participated in the consultation. And at least one resident said he wouldn’t take the money.
29 households within 1km of the centre of the site will qualify for £2,070. Another 259 households within 1-1.5km qualify £150. They must apply for the money within 30 days of a letter dated 30 October 2017.
John Tootiill, whose nursery is within 1km of the Preston New Road site, has supported opposition to Cuadrilla’s operation. He told The Guardian he didn’t want the money:
“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.”
The Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, said in a statement today:
“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.
“Residents in Lancashire will not be swayed by a naked attempt to use bribery to divide and conquer communities. It is time for the Government to stop circumventing democracy and, finally, listen to the public.”
A £100,000 sum for the first well at Preston New Road has been paid into an independently-managed fund. Cuadrilla said a community panel would make decisions on how this money would be distributed. The panel is likely to be appointed by the end of the year and the first payments made in early Spring 2018. Money not claimed by residents for the second well would go into this fund, Cuadrilla said.
A consultation on the priorities for the fund suggested that people wanted money to go to local environmental issues (24%), health living (19%) and safety (14%).
Asked how the local community could be supported, 24% of participants said it should be through resident-led projects, while 18% said through existing community activities and services.