UKIP Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer says the Government has been ‘too slow’ in showing support, argues that local ‘frack tax’ reinvestment is insecure and gives a stark warning on EU involvement.
“Well it’s good that at long last the Government has seen sense on this and come out in support of shale gas. It would boost the economy, bring us energy security, create jobs and perhaps even enable the UK to become an energy exporter. The benefits are too good to ignore. UKIP came out with the party’s policy on shale gas back in September last year. Once again it’s the Conservative Party desperately trying to ape UKIP policy. The fact that the Government has dragged its heals over this has enabled a storm cloud of doubt to loom large over fracking. It’s now going to take one hell of a PR campaign to get the general public back on side.
“I am also rather confused as to how the distribution of local reinvestment would happen. Local councils may be tempted to write into budgets percentages from shale gas that may not even transpire. It seems that this has not been thought through. There is also the age old risk that all the financial benefits could be swallowed up by bureaucracy.
“UKIP has a very clear position on this and has been talking about this for months. Just as Norway set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the profits of oil drilling, now worth half a trillion pounds, we believe that the profits from fracking in the UK should be channelled into a similar fund which would ensure financial security for future generations, and could be used flexibly for key policies such as care for the elderly. That fund would grow, and would make sure that in the light of future economic turmoil the UK has a cushion. We would know exactly where that money would go and be in a position to decide how it would be spent.
“But we would also need to wrestle our fracking policy free from intervention from Brussels. UKIP believes that safety and proper regulation must be the number one priority, but the reams of legislation being drafted by the European Parliament on fracking will severely hamper UK development. The UK has the lion’s share of shale gas reserves and should have full control over how we treat those reserves in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for our country.”