Houghton councillor hits out at fracking ‘bribe’

Fracking protesters at Barton Moss
Fracking protesters at Barton Moss
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A CITY councillor has dismissed a new Government incentive for councils to approve controversial fracking projects as a bribe.

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to allow councils to keep all of the business rates generated by shale gas schemes – twice the usual figure of 50 per cent.

But independent councillor Colin Wakefield, part of a protest group set up to raise concerns about the geology of the Houghton landfill site, said: “Until we have the facts, I would have concerns about accepting any kind of bribe.

“I would welcome some detailed facts first before anyone makes any decision.”

North East Chamber of Commerce Policy and Research Manager Mark Stephenson said fracking could be beneficial: “It is unlikely the region will be impacted to a large extent.

“However, shale gas could provide a huge benefit for our process industries, so the North East will benefit indirectly.

“It is worth keeping in mind that our large reserves of coal mean we’re a prime location for coal gasification, which could go a long way towards making us self-sufficient as an energy consumer.

City council cabinet secretary Mel Speding promised that any application would be properly examined before a decision is made.

“Should any company want to survey the area, this would be a major development and planning issue for our city,” he said.