A new Government fund to help communities faced with shale development has begun consultations, with individual households set to benefit.
People living in areas where shale gas development could take place are set to receive millions of pounds as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison has announced plans for a Shale Wealth Fund (SWF).
The fund, which could be worth up to £1 billion in total, will pay out to communities affected by fracking over 25 years.
Up to 10 per cent of tax revenues arising from shale gas production will be used for the benefit of people who live in areas hosting shale gas exploration, with a potential option for payments to be issued directly to households.
But anti-fracking campaigners said the cash payments will not ’sweeten the fracking pill’.
It is thought each individual household could receive up to £10,000 each, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Ms Ellison said ’natural gas is absolutely vital to the economy’ and hopes local communities can see the extra benefit the fund will allow.
"We are backing the safe development of shale gas because natural gas is absolutely vital to the economy, currently providing around one third of our energy supply," explained Ms Ellison.
"We’ve made safety and the environment our top priorities but we also want to ensure local people and communities see extra benefit, beyond the jobs and growth that the safe use of shale gas delivers."
The announcement of the Shale Wealth Fund came just four weeks after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said fracking could go ahead if three key tests were met on methane leaks, gas consumption and carbon budgets.
Commenting on the announcement that cash benefits for communities affected by fracking will go directly to families, Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: "The government has tried to sweeten the fracking pill with cash payments before, and it didn’t work.
"Over the last two years, public opposition has soared and support for shale has tanked.
"People’s concerns about climate change and their local environment cannot be silenced with a wad of cash.
"You can’t put a price on the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the beauty of our countryside.
"If Theresa May wants to show the UK is open for business, she should reverse the policies that have harmed our vibrant clean energy sector and back the technologies that can supply cheap, homegrown energy for decades to come."