In a bid to clear the path for shale gas fracking, the UK government is considering plans to directly pay househoulds affected by the developments, But, as Sara Hemrajani reports, the plan has sparked accusations of bribery.
Another attempt to pave the way for shale gas fracking... Residents, like those in this town in southern England, could soon be offered cash in hand if the developments go ahead. It's an option being weighed up by new Prime Minister Theresa May as Britain tries to tap its energy reserves. But the drilling technique has long proved controversial, and applications have struggled to find approval from local communities, with noise and environmental impacts being the main concerns. Now the government is being accused of using its shale wealth fund for bribery. SOUNDBITE: Various Balcombe residents, saying (English): "I have no doubt that it will change people's opinions, I mean money talks. But at the end of the day, that's a short-sighted way of doing things." "What does bribery mean, it's means there's something wrong, it means that they need an inducement." Energy executives say they see the plans very differently. SOUNDBITE: Ken Cronin, UK Onshore Oil and Gas CEO, saying (English): "I think it's actually saying thank you to those communities where gas exists, just like wherever wind or nuclear exists as well, it's just to say thank you for hosting those sites on behalf of others in the country." The British government says the new fund could deliver up to 10 million pounds per eligible community. It's not been revealed how much each household would receive, but local media reports suggest it could be as much as 13,000 pounds in some areas - although working out who's entitled to the money could prove tricky.