Truss plans to offer rewards to communities which vote for fracking

Fracking: Menzies asks Rees-Mogg if PM is 'woman of her word'

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People living in areas with shale gas could receive cash or other incentives if they vote to allow fracking to go ahead, a senior cabinet minister has revealed. Party chairman Jake Berry, who represents Rossendale and Darwena Lancashire seat near where fracking could take place, has told Express.co.uk that an announcement is to be made shortly.

Mr Berry, who gave his first interview since being appointed party chairman three weeks ago to Express.co.uk, said that the Government is taking the drive for energy security “very seriously” but understands that local communities need to be won over.

The issue could be a big one at the next election with seats in areas like Sussex, Lancashire and even Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg’s county of Somerset all potentially affected by drilling for shale gas.

And Mr Berry, who previously founded the Northern Research Group (NRG) partly to help fortify Tory gains in former Labour Red Wall areas, has now been tasked with leading the Tory election machine to win an unprecedented fifth term in a row for the party.

His revelation on fracking comes after a call by former Energy Minister Sir Michael Fallon on the Government to change the law to allow people to profit from the gas under their homes and property.

Currently, all gas and petroleum deposits are owned by the Crown Estate which sends the money to the Treasury, although it is actually nominally owned by King Charles III.

This means that while the 2015 Infrastructure Act allowed drilling under people’s homes they were unable to profit from it.

In the US where fracking has been successful, people own the deposits on their land.

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Mr Berry suggested that might be about to come to an end.

He said: “On the issue of fracking let’s be clear about what we said, which is that areas that have fracking will have to have local consent. Local referendums. So, if you don’t like it vote against it.

“But as well as the burden of the fracking we also need them to feel the benefit.

“In time I am sure it will become clear what steps the Government will take to reward communities.”

Explaining why the Government wants to press ahead, he pointed to the Ukraine war and the way Russia has withheld supplies from the UK and Europe.

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He said: “You cannot be a sovereign nation if you don’t have energy security and that is why the Prime Minister has set out her ambition for Britain to become self-sufficient with energy and actually export a bit as well.

“We cannot allow the situation ever to arise again in the nation’s story where we are held to ransom by hostile powers when it comes to our national energy supply.

“Fracking, North Sea oil, new nuclear power.”

Last week, Mr Rees-Mogg announced that the Government intends to award 100 new fracking licenses and that he intends to raise the point where an earthquake is considered to be triggered.

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