Fracking and Community Benefits

Local MP Mark Menzies spoke in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

He suggested that the interpretation of “well site” for the £100k payment during the exploration/appraisal stage in the OFFUGO charter should be per well and not per well site.

It is therefore important for the Minister to give some clarity that it is £100,000 per well and not per well pad site. As he is aware, a pad can contain up to 20 wells, so it is therefore imperative that we have clarity in order to avoid confusion in future.

He displays a rather worrying lack of understanding here though – the £100k is only proposed for exploration wells which, based on experience so far, would not normally have more than one or maybe two wells on each. Surely he should know this?

It is only in the production phase that they would drill multiple wells, and then according to Cuadrilla there there “may be as many as 10 wellheads at the surface. Beneath each of these wellheads, there would be one vertical well, each with eight-twelve horizontal wells (“laterals”) at various depths” so that’s 120 wells not the 20 mentioned here by our MP.

He also alludes to what we suspected about payments going to County Councils.

Dan Byles MP said on Radio 4 last Friday that “the council is not the community” as far as these payments are concerned. Apparently we may be talking about what council tier it will be given to – parish council, district council but they are not actually talking about giving it to the council.

However Mark Menzies clearly believes it will. “I believe the figure proposed is one third—should go to the county council, as the mineral rights authority.”

We look forward to his comments on the conflict of interest that this will create.

Later comments by Byles and Fallon show either that he hasn’t done his homework very well, or that they are keeping him in the dark about what they are actually suggesting.

Later in the debate we here Dan Byles telling us

“There is great consensus on the community benefit and we have reached the stage where no one is disputing or discussing whether we should have a community benefit scheme; we are simply discussing the detail.”

That maybe true amongst the gung-go let’s frack gang but it’s certainly not tru on the ground there isn’t Dan! Not here!

He goes on to tell us

“Today’s debate is about the benefit to people and communities in Lancashire. It is their gas; it is not Cuadrilla’s gas or Centrica’s gas, and it is certainly not the Government’s gas”

So it would seem that we own it all – in that case surely WE can decide whether it stays in the ground, and if it doesn’t WE can decide the terms under which it is extracted – not the Government!

The rest of the debate was pretty much as expected with Michael “Not waving but drowning” Fallon ending up admitting that nobody has much idea about the specifics of what the benefit should be or how it would be distributed or administered but that it is a jolly good thing.

And so it goes.

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