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Cuadrilla downplays prospect of using fracking to drive new tech investment

Cuadrilla downplays prospect of using fracking to drive new tech investment

Shale gas developer Cuadrilla has distanced itself from its owner's mooted plan to boost local support for fracking operations by investing a chunk of the money raised through tax receipts in new technologies and local community projects.

Allan Campbell, the founder of Cuadrilla told the Sunday Times last weekend, he was trying to convince the Treasury to use part of the tax it stands to collect from shale gas and set it aside for investment in new technologies and infrastructure.

The UK has set some of the most generous tax breaks in the world for shale gas development, meaning taxes for the sector will stand at less than half the top rate of 62 per cent imposed on new North Sea oil operations.

But Campbell argued the Treasury should use the receipts it does gain from fracking activity to help local communities and drive the development of new technologies.

"Let's not piss this away like we did with the North Sea, where after 40 years we have nothing," he said. "We should reinvest smartly, for the benefit of your kids and their kids and their kids, whether that's in skills or new technologies, or whatever."

The paper indicated that some of the new revenues could be used to support green projects or establish a UK sovereign wealth fund.

Campbell hopes such a move could help ease public opposition to fracking, which has spurred protests at potential shale gas developments around the country, one of which saw the arrest of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

But Cuadrilla distanced itself from Campbell's proposal today, maintaining the plan is not being pursued internally.

"This is not a Cuadrilla Board or a management team proposal and represents Mr Campbell's personal view," a spokesman said. "We have had no conversation with Treasury about sovereign wealth funds or other proposals."

In related news, the chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), has reiterated his view that the UK should seek to exploit shale gas reserves as quickly as possible in order to boost energy security.

Lord Deben told The Times that green groups were wrong to argue fracking would cause significant environmental damage or "the world would come to an end if you frack".

The CCC has today urged the government not to ditch or alter the UK's carbon budget for the mid-2020s, to ensure a strong signal is sent to low carbon investors.

Deben said gas use had already been factored into its carbon budget plans through to the early 2030s, apparently downplaying fears that a greater use of gas would lock the UK into a fossil fuel future.

"There will be a need for gas and much better to have it from us and as soon as we can because I do genuinely think people ought to be worried about the security of our energy supplies," he said.

Deben has long been concerned by the need to boost energy sovereignty by developing a mix of energy sources, including shale gas, renewable energy and nuclear. Earlier this year, he warned that the UK could find itself "at the mercy of Mr Putin's children" unless it develops more of its own energy supplies.

However, he dismissed claims made by a number of politicians, including the Prime Minister, that shale gas could lead to significantly lower energy bills.

"There is absolutely no logical evidence to suggest that the amount of gas that we are likely to get in Britain, given the geological formation, given where the places are , given that we have gas at a deeper point and we don't have the American advantage of the waylaws of ownership work, it isn't going to be game-changing," he told The Times.


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