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Posted Tue Jan 14 2014: from The Independent:
Government accused of 'bribing local councils' on controversial fracking projects
MPs accused the government of seeking to bribe local councils to grant planning permission for controversial fracking projects today, just as new figures showed Britain's shale gas regulator has only six staff dedicated to fracking full time. They fear that the shale gas industry could be allowed to balloon without proper scrutiny and are especially concerned because, in only a fortnight, the regulator will be required to issue new fracking permits within two weeks, compared to the current 13-week wait. David Cameron declared that his government is "going all out for shale" as he announced that councils will be allowed to keep all of the business rates raised from fracking sites in a deal that is expected to generate millions of pounds for local authorities. His announcement came as the French energy giant Total became the first of the world's major oil companies to buy into Britain's shale gas industry, acquiring a stake in a project in Lincolnshire.... The change in business rates comes as Environment Agency which regulates fracking as part of a much broader remit prepares to cut about 15 per cent of its staff. An agency spokesman declined to comment on whether any of its fracking staff would be made redundant in the cuts.
[Read more stories about: fracking, governmental corruption, bad policy, short-term thinking]

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