Fracking Battle to Burn Hot as UK Goes "All Out for Shale"

Signals that British Prime Minister David Cameron is about to go “all in for for shale” are dovetailing with moves by some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies who see enormous profit-making opportunities if the UK government can overcome local and grassroots┬á opposition to the fledgling fracking industry in the country.

Cameron’s latest comments on the controversial gas drilling technique come with the announcement of a new plan that opponents to fracking call “bribery” that would see local government councils receive large financial incentives if they help approve proposed projects in their area.

Previewing a speech Cameron is expected to deliver Monday, the Guardian reports:

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But Jane Thomas, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, blasted the new approach.

“Today’s announcement from the government that councils can keep all the business rate revenue they receive from fracking companies marks a new low in the government’s attempts to curry fracking favour with local people,” said Thomas.

She continued by arguing that incentivizing local governments with fracking profits was a nefarious precedent to set: “These community sweeteners raise huge concerns about conflicts of interest if those councils who potentially will benefit from this money are also the ones who determine the planning applications from fracking companies in the first place.”

Throughout 2013, anti-fracking campaigners in several communities targeted gas drilling test sites with protests in order to prevent the gas companies from establishing a foothold in the UK. Unlike in the US, where a fracking boom has unleashed a torrent of greenhouse gas pollution and water contamination, the fracking industry in the UK remains in its infancy stage.

But as the Guardian report adds, large industry players such as French company Total and US-based Chevron, are lining up with interest over the UK’s untapped shale gas deposits.

As Greenpeace climate campaigner Lawrence Carter told the Guardian for a separate article: “Total, a French company who can’t frack in their own country because the French government has stopped the French countryside being ripped up, have now turned their sights on the UK countryside, where the UK government seem happy to allow the industrialisation of our green and pleasant land. The UK government seem deaf to the risks fracking poses to our environment and local communities and are pushing ahead with selling off two-thirds of Britain for drilling without a public mandate.”

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