Cameron backs payouts for fracking-hit homes

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DAVID Cameron has hit out at the “irrational” opponents of shale gas extraction as he raised the prospect of direct cash payments for households who agree to fracking near their homes.

The Prime Minister told MPs last night it would be a “great mistake” for the UK to turn its back on shale gas in the face of opposition from green campaigners.

Mr Cameron said current estimates suggest the Bowland Shale formation beneath Yorkshire and the North of England contains enough shale to fuel the UK’s gas needs for 30 years, if even seven per cent of the gas is found to be extractable – the current average success rate for shale firms.

Describing himself as “a supporter” of shale gas, Mr Cameron told the Commons liaison committee: “If there is an opportunity to extract clean, low-cost gas from shale in the UK, we would be making a great mistake if we didn’t enable this industry to grow.”

The PM accepted there would be local arguments over the impact on communities but said that they must be “properly informed”.

“There are some people who I think are opposing shale because they simply can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel being used in our energy mix,” said Mr Cameron.

“I think that’s irrational – it is surely better for us to be extracting shale safely from our own country, rather than paying a high price for having it imported from around the world.”

Mr Cameron said the Government is now considering “whether, because of the disturbance... there should be cash payments to householders”, adding: “I’m quite in favour of that.”