A HAMPSHIRE-BASED oil tycoon is bidding to spark a shale gas boom by handing out millions of pounds to landowners and communities affected by fracking.
Billionaire businessman Jim Ratcliffe, who founded INEOS which has offices in Lyndhurst, is vowing to hand over six per cent of any revenue generated from the controversial process.
He hopes this will kick start a fracking boom that has enriched the parts of the USA, with landowners receiving four per cent and local communities two per cent.
As previously reported, gas companies have already been granted eight licences for fracking in southern Hampshire.
The areas affected include land between North Baddesley and Fairthorne, Kings Worthy and Stockbridge, and Chilton and Amport.
But in July Government ministers promised National Parks such as the New Forest and the South Downs will be protected from fracking unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.
Typically, those living in a Shale gas community covering a 62 square mile area with about 200 wells would split £375 million between them.
Home and landowners directly above the wells would share £250m.
The rest of an INEOS Shale gas community would share £125m between them, which Mr Radcliffe said would make a substantial contribution towards new schools, parks, community centres and even hospitals.
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Over the lifetime of a single well, home and land owners would get more than £1.3 million and the community £600,000.
Mr Radcliffe said: “We think this is a game changer for Britain.
“Giving six per cent of the revenues to those living above our Shale gas operations will give them a real stake in the success of “It is extremely important that people know that Shale gas can be extracted, transported and processed safely and in an environmentally responsible way.
“INEOS is a company used to dealing with complex petrochemical processes and we have now hired some of the world’s leading Shale gas experts to further strengthen our sub-surface team.
“With INEOS, people can be confident that they will not only get a fair share of the rewards but that everything will be done to the highest possible standards.”
Mr Radcliffe comes a fortnight after planners rejected a bid by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in the South Downs National Park.
Celtique Energie put in a planning application for a site near Fernhurst, West Sussex, to drill a temporary vertical well to test for oil and gas.
The controversial plan, which attracted more than 5,500 objections, could also have led to the drilling of a horizontal well extending out from it.
The process involves drilling thousands of feet underground and then pumping in pressurised water and chemicals to crack the rocks below and release trapped pockets of gas. The controversial process has been blamed for causing mini-earthquakes in Lancashire.