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Autumn statement | Boost for shale

The fracking industry received a boost in today’s Autumn Statement as George Osborne set out spending plans.

The chancellor told MPs that three funds had been created to encourage the extraction of shale gas in the UK.

Elsewhere, after a week that included announcements of billions of pounds of flood defence and road improvement projects, there was little new for the infrastructure sector in Osborne’s speech.

On shale gas he said: “The government will provide a £5M fund to provide independent evidence directly to the public about the robustness of the existing regulatory regime. This will also ensure the public is better engaged in the regulatory process.

“Alongside this, the government will allocate £31M of funding to create world class sub-surface research test centres through the Natural EnvironmentResearch Council. This will establish world leading knowledge which will be applicable to a wide range of energy technologies including shale gas and carbon capture and storage.”

Osborne added: “The government intends to set up a long-term investment fund from tax revenues from shale for the North and other areas hosting shale gas developments, to capture the economic benefits of shale gas for future generations.”

Fracking, exploring Mars and replacing Gromit: Autumn Statement 2014 as it happened

1.23pm: The country is on course for prosperity, Osborne says with a flourish as he sits down. That’s all folks. A good week for infrastructure overall but nothing major of note today. Shale probably the winner. Meanwhile all eyes remain on the Parliamentary process for the bills to allow HS2 and the reform of the Highways Agency. And we are just five months from a general election.

1.20pm: Stamp duty reforms to boost housebuilding now.

1.19pm: The answer to the question I posed at 1.03pm is 16 minutes. Bingo.

1.17pm: National insurance will be abolished for young apprentices - a boost for the talent-hungry civils industry.

1.16pm: The chancellor has moved on to ISAs and saving schemes now.

1.14pm: Looks as though the road and flood schemes named earlier this week may be the sum of infrastructure announcements in this statement. Not a huge surprise.

1.12pm: Here we go at last… a brief nod to the roads building programme released earlier this week and also to shale gas, which will benefit from three funds.

1.10pm: Britain has a lead role in the exploration of planet Mars. Many civils firms would settle for a quicker road from Oxford to Cambridge.

1.05pm: The old Wallace and Gromit comparison to Balls and Milliband has been revisited from the 2012 Budget. Hasn’t Osborne got any new material?

1.03pm: We are all in this together, Osborne says, to the sound of a million pencils crossing the phrase off their bingo card. How long until ‘hard working people’?

12.59pm: A fund for repairs to churches is to be extended. The first nod to construction in the statement.

12.56pm: Welfare spending will also fall - by £1bn per year. “Decisions to save public money are not easy.”

12.55pm: The popular stuff first to save money - a crackdown on tax fraud, and more efficient government.

12.52pm: “There are going to be substantial savings in public spending over the next year.” The chancellor is moving on from gloating over debt figures to pave the way for some tough messages.

12:46pm: Osborne is struggling to make himself heard above the schoolyard din here as he reads out borrowing reduction figures. The speaker is stepping in to warn against “excessive” noise.

12.40pm: Growth of 3% is expected this year, Osborne says - an increase on previous forecasts.

 

 

Readers' comments (4)

  • Looking forward to all that money being spent on trying to prove the safety of a backward energy solution. It's going to be wonderful when either the source is deemed unsafe and scrapped or is successful and creates another wonderful source of carbon spewing fossil fuelled energy generation.

    I'm sure this funding would do wonders for the development of renewable energy technology, but I'm I'm sure G.O. is qualified to make these decisions...

    ...isn't it funny how the term Shale Gas is used to soften the blow over Fracking. Fracking!? Oh get it away!! Shale Gas? Oh lovely, lets all hold hands and skip around this tree! I'm not that blinkered, and I'm sure most others aren't either.

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  • ...don't get me wrong, I'm choughed about CCS and all that. But we need sustainable energy sources to compliment the mitigation and remedial action required for current "dirty" energy. Spending any kind of money on Shale Gas is just an expensive dead end waiting to happen and a pause on greener developments.

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  • Fracking, bad for the global environment, bad for the local environment, will have a negligible effect on UK energy prices, requires us to change our laws and planning protections - why bother?

    But wait, what's this? It will make money for a few US and UK firms and some landowners? What are we waiting for!? Lets get cracking! (well perhaps not now OPEC are waging a price war on US fracking)

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  • History will show that this decision is and will always be fundamentally wrong. The fund set aside is nothing to the billions that will be paid out in health bills, claims and litigation that follow on from the first chemicals found in drinking water and cattle. We are already being slowly poisoned by endocrine disrupters in plastic, add this to the list. Cameron and Osborne make this an election issue and let the public decide.

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