Cuadrilla has today (17 August) made a payment of £100,000 to an independent Community Benefit Fund which will distribute the money to community projects to be agreed with the community local to the Preston New Road shale gas exploration site. This is in line with the UK Onshore Oil and Gas Community Engagement Charter and agreement with the Government and follows on from the commencement of exploration drilling at the Preston New Road site.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said:
“Today is an important milestone for the energy industry in the UK as well as the community in Lancashire. In addition to the jobs created, and the nearly £3million of investment that Lancashire has received to date as a result of our shale gas exploration, the local community will now also directly benefit. Following on from this Community Benefit Fund payment a consultation will now start with the community to decide how best to distribute the payment to good causes in the area. We are very proud to be the first British onshore shale gas operator to make this happen.”
Local residents will soon receive a survey carried out by MES (Membership Engagement Services), an independent research, engagement and communications company. Residents will be asked their views on which types of local community issues or projects the Community Benefit Fund for the first exploration well should be spent.
The Community Benefit Fund will be managed independently of Cuadrilla by the Community Foundation for Lancashire.
At the same time, local residents will also be consulted on whether they wish the funds for the other three wells Cuadrilla has planning consent to drill and hydraulically fracture to be paid into the independent Community Benefit Fund, managed by the Community Foundation for Lancashire, or proportionately directly to individual local households via a separate scheme. If all three wells are drilled, this would total another £300,000.