Following the recent announcements related to permit shale gas exploration there were two so very important words hidden within the announcement.
This item is just so important that it must be given a proper airing and analysis the article here details :-
The article touches on the subject but is just too simplistic and trivial.
Take the scenario of a local village community in rural England suddenly besieged by a travelling circus of lorries, drilling rigs, cranes, porta-cabins and noisy miscellaneous heavy plant. The peace and tranquillity of the area is totally destroyed for a period of often more than 12 months, plus of course the ongoing concerns of noise, water pollution and minor quakes.
There are also ongoing effects related to property values and insurance premiums neither of which are even remotely considered by the planning process. To add finally an insult to the injury, many of these communities do not have a mains gas supply and the gas is being removed from their area on a fast track bypass
New PEDL exploration licences are due to be granted, in the next months, over whole swathes of Middle England and the challenges over wind farms may pale into insignificance as local residents fully comprehend the risks to their tranquil lives..
I personally have watched and monitored the progress of two drilling applications through the planning application process and have been astounded at the poor quality of applications, the lack of proper technical detail and the omission of pertinent facts in the planning documents. Unfortunately the planning officers have been hoodwinked by the applicant and their agent, by documents which could have been published by an estate agent painting only a glowing picture of the proposal, and as a consequence the actual planning committee are blinded by ‘Bull’.
— Planning decisions seem to be made against the wishes of local councils and ignore totally the concept of Localism.
A dash for gas will happen regardless of the potential risks, big business and politics will ensure it happens, because the UK needs the energy. but the risks need to be properly considered in the context of the fact that accidents will occur:-
— Proper quality technically informed planning permission
— Proper safety rules and regulations
— Proper site monitoring and transparency
— Total visibility of the operations to the local community
— Agreed benefits for the community for the whole life of the project including compensation options
It is the last risk that is possibly the greatest and least included in the project. In the cases I have observed, the community is visited by a travelling circus of subcontractors and their equipments and offers no employment benefits other than perhaps the most menial tasks, thus employment benefits are a myth.
The community suffers the downside of local industrialisation, often in a greenbelt area with all the downside risks of property values, loss of amenities, extra insurance costs (note the flood victims) and still no gas supply. — In short a residents nightmare!
The offers of compensation currently suggested and indicated such as donations for a community hall or playgrounds or whatever are abysmal, and are little more than a short term bribe as values of £1000, £10,000 or even £100,000 ( as offered by the wind turbine industry), pale into insignificance compared with the potential vast turnover, profits and now subsidies available to gas and fracking the industry.
So what is the solution
The exploration company and any subsequent owners must be legally bound to pay a percentage of the gas revenue into a properly registered and administered fund controlled by the local council to be used for the benefit of the local community and any compensation deemed legitimate. — This is a big step above current thinking but must happen.
In the two cases I have been involved with no such compensation has been considered or offered , but in truth the works planned and in had represent activities little short of rape with not a single benefit to the communities and this cannot be allowed to continue. — Even retrospective action must be considered.
Without proper long tem compensation I predict a ‘peasants revolt’ which will change the shape of our country and the political landscape.
Local Benefits for Local People — Must be the cry