‘Bribery’, ‘Arm twisting’ and ‘sweeteners’ were the words used by a local fracking opposition group in reaction to the news that councils in England and Wales could keep more money in tax revenue if they support the drilling process.
Just two days ago Prime Minister David Cameron announced the generous tax incentives for councils if they back fracking and has urged opponents to ‘get on board’ stating that the process ‘could bring 74,000 jobs’, ‘over £3bn of investment’, give cheaper energy for the future and increase energy security. Dr Carroll O’Dolan of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network is not convinced.
“This latest ‘tax incentive’ to local councils in England and Wales is another attempt by the Westminster government to force through on an unwilling public an industry that is not popular, not wanted and not necessary.
“So David Cameron, rather than dealing with the real issues around HVHF (High Volume Hydraulic Fracking) that makes it so unpopular in the UK, he resorts to bribery. If HVHF was so great, there would be no need for all this arm twisting and sweeteners to the councils.”
FFAN have warned that while extra money for councils may seem at the outset, further problems lie further down the road.
“Councils beware: the Whitehall Government has also recently announced that the HVHF companies will be exempted from the onerous costs of holding insurance bonds and policies that normally exist to ensure that heavy industry pays for any clean ups and environmental degradation caused by their actions.
“Thus if a HVHF company goes bust on the mainland it will be left to the local taxpayers in each area to pay for the clean ups and long term consequences of HVHF.
“We hope the Northern Ireland Executive will show no such incompetence as to allow the same scenario to arise here. Otherwise if Tamboran or its successor goes bankrupt, as has happened several USA fracking companies recently, then the Fermanagh taxpayers can expect to receive a huge bill as a result.”
FFAN were not in attendance at the protest outside the Town Hall on Thursday as on the same day they had a meeting with officers of Fermanagh District Council, in which they raised their many concerns about fracking in Fermanagh.
At this meeting it was decided that the group would compile a dossier of the growing evidence that shows that HVHF is ‘neither healthy for the environment, ourselves or our economy’.
This evidence will then be passed on to the full council for discussion.