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'You Can't Buy Health': Energy​ Company Accused of Offering 'Blood Money' to Frack Near Homes

Fracking
Drone photograph of the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road, taken Feb. 25. Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Cuadrilla Resources—a UK-based energy company set to horizontally frack Britain for the first time after two earthquakes halted its initial drilling attempt in 2011—is giving cash payments to residents living near its shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla said that households within one kilometer of the site will each receive approximately £2,070 ($2,700) and those within one to 1.5 kilometers will receive approximately £150 ($197) as part of its £100,000 community benefit payment for the well it is drilling.


"Our shale gas exploration work continues to progress in Lancashire, helping to strengthen the county's economy with over £4.7m ($6.2 million) invested in the county since operations began, and now nearly 300 households will directly benefit from our community payments," the company said in a statement.

But John Tootill, who owns nearby Maple Farm Nursery and has petitioned against fracking, told the Guardian he is refusing Cuadrilla's "blood money."

"It is absolutely the most appalling thing. How can you give money to compensate for affecting people's health and spoiling their environment?" he said.

"What we want is our health. It's just blood money really, because no amount of money can compensate for somebody's health being affected. You can't buy health. Most certainly I wouldn't take it."

Fracking is a contentious topic in the UK, with Scotland recently banning the controversial drilling process. England, however, has been very different. Its Conservative-led government has advocated for exploration and drilling licenses despite staunch public opposition.

The Preston New Road site itself has been at the center of high profile, anti-fracking protests. Controversially, Cuadrilla was allowed to initiate drilling after the UK government overruled Lancashire County Council's rejection of two applications from Cuadrilla to frack in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla expects to begin fracking at the Preston New Road at the end of December or early next year, Reuters reported.

Third Energy, another UK-based gas exploration company, also expects to start fracking before the end of the year at its Kirby Misperton site in Yorkshire once it is green-lit by the government.

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