Fracking: We’re not Texas – MP

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Lancashire MP Eric Ollerenshaw has warned that hopes for a cash bonanza for Lancashire as a result of fracking – drilling for shale gas – are misplaced.

He claims that revenue is more likely to go to the Duchy of Lancaster because it owns the mineral rights to much of the land fracking could take place on.

The MP also says there are still too many unanswered questions about potential health risks from fracking.

Mr Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, called for a new Community Compensation Scheme for the county if fracking goes ahead. He spoke out as the Government was expected to make an announcement giving the go-ahead for more investigations at Lancashire sites. He said: “I’ve two major issues. The first is obviously the safety aspects.

“I had a meeting in Bleasdale where people are concerned because a lot of people take their water from their own boreholes – they are not on mains water. There’s a lot to be looked at in terms of implications for the water table and safety .”

The MP said he had spoken to the Chancellor George Osborne about what revenue the county stands to gain from fracking: “If Lancashire is going to bale out the rest of the country what is Lancashire going to gain?The Chancellor will gain through the tax system and Cuadrilla will extract profits but mineral rights do not belong to most of the landowners in our area, which still belong to the Duchy of Lancaster.

“This is what I’m trying to get through in London – this isn’t Texas where you buy your land and own everything underneath it.”

He said there needs to be a Community Compensation Scheme. Dismissing claims that it will turn Lancashire into a boom-time economy he said: “There are not lots of jobs attached to this. I want some Community Compensation Scheme If Lancashire is going to deliver on this Lancashire needs a pay-off.”

A spokesman for the Duchy said: “The Duchy of Lancaster owns the mineral rights for land in parts of Lancashire. We have been approached by Cuadrilla regarding a potential fracking site, but will not consider a licence for this work without the necessary planning consents and safety assurances.

“The Duchy does not receive any money from the gas itself, as it only controls the land.

“Should Cuadrilla wish to access the gas from Duchy land then it would require a licence to drill which would have to be granted by the Duchy.”

Cuadrilla, the company leading the shale gas initiative, has applied for new planning permission to create a new vertical well at its Annas Lane site in Westby Today county councillo rs were due to receive a briefing abour regulating fracking.

The News was unable to contact Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace for comment