United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group announces next steps in the formation of its community benefits scheme

The United Kingdom Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), the onshore oil and gas industry’s representative body is pleased to announce the next phase in the development of the industry’s community benefits scheme.

1. Pilot Scheme for exploration sites 
The industry today is launching a pilot scheme of selected shale gas exploration sites in the UK which involve exploratory drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing of the exploration wells.
 
Once planning consent has been granted and exploratory drilling operations have begun, each pilot exploration site will have £100,000 made available for the benefit of the local community. The principles we intend to apply to the pilot phase are:
 
  • The scheme should be independent from the industry, operators or political organisations;
  • The funds to be managed and distributed by an organisation with experience and integrity;
  • The communities should have the lead role in identifying local priorities for the funds;
  • The funds to be used for the overall benefit of local communities rather than individuals.
 
To ensure community benefit funds are managed and distributed independently of the operators themselves UKOOG, on behalf of the onshore oil and gas industry and operators, is partnering with UK Community Foundations (UKCF), which works for communities through a UK-wide network of community foundations. Operating in the UK for over 20 years, community foundations’ cumulative investment in communities will pass £750 million later this year.
 
Once planning consent is granted UKCF and the appropriate local community foundation will manage a consultation process to engage the local community in defining local priorities and needs, including the appointment of a community panel to decide how the money will be spent once the consultation is complete.
 
This process will be repeated in the communities of each pilot exploration site.
 
UKCF has helped many communities across the country on behalf of a number of major corporations and sectors. Examples of previous community initiatives have included:
 
  • The purchase and running of a local village shop;
  • Reinstatement of a micro-hydroelectricity plant; 
  • Commissioning of a local apprenticeship scheme with local businesses; 
  • Management of a local nature reserve; 
  • Setting up of children’s breakfast clubs
 
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG said: “The pilot scheme approach will allow us to learn at an early stage what works for the communities that we are operating in and how we can develop our schemes for the future. Working with UKCF provides us with the ability to have an independent national framework that establishes an industry standard with guaranteed quality and consistency. The scheme will allow community benefits to be delivered and owned by local communities, for local communities, reacting to locally defined need and addressing local priorities. I am delighted to be working with UKCF, which has built up a wonderful knowledge and reputation of working with local communities for the benefit of local communities over the last 20 years.”
 
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