Incentive ‘will not change council fracking policy’

A FINANCIAL incentive from central Government will not change East Sussex County Council’s policy on fracking.

Earlier this week, David Cameron announced tax incentives worth millions of pounds for councils that give the go-ahead to fracking projects.

The Prime Minister said local authorities will be able to keep 100 per cent of the business rates collected from shale gas energy schemes.

Usually councils would receive 50 per cent of such rates, but Mr Cameron announced the incentive as part of a drive to exploit the controversial pressure mining technique.

There are some pre-existing licenses for oil and gas exploration in some parts of East Sussex, including the High Weald from Heathfield upwards, which are issued by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

But ESCC says any company wanting to carry out exploratory drilling in those areas would have to apply to the county council for planning permission.

A council spokesman said: “While there are a number of existing licenses issued by the Government for oil and gas exploration in East Sussex, the county council has not currently received any applications to drill in the county.

“Our waste and minerals plan explains our general position on oil and gas exploration, and makes clear that any application for exploratory drilling would be subject to formal planning procedures, including a rigorous examination of the potential environmental impact. The Government’s recent announcement does not change our existing policies and any application for oil and gas would be considered separately on its individual merits.”