Activists in hard hats and high-vis jackets have turned up on the doorstep of the Prime Minister’s period cottage in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean, Oxfordshire, this morning. They are now sealing off the property’s front gate with security fencing and hanging a sign reading, ‘We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home’.
A group of campaigners is also trying to deliver a lottery-style over-sized cheque for £50 – the maximum compensation ministers are willing to pay to individual home and landowners for allowing companies to drill under their property. 
The government recently launched a three-month consultation on proposed changes to existing access rights that would give fracking firms the all-clear to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission. But government sources have also signalled that changes to trespass legislation will be included in the Infrastructure Bill due to be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech. 
A recent YouGov survey showed three quarters of people in Britain – as well as 73% of potential Tory voters – oppose ministers’ plans to strip people of their access rights in order to clear the way for fracking.  Over 46,000 people have joined a legal block set up by Greenpeace and based on the access rights homeowners have over the ground below their property.
With the coming onshore licensing round ministers are planning to open up more than half of Britain for fracking, including large swaths of rural Oxfordshire.  Government officials have indicated that national parks, cities, and even urban commons won’t be off limits to fracking. 
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said:
“David Cameron wants to rob people of their right to stop fracking firms drilling under their homes – surely he won’t mind if we kick off the under-house fracking revolution below his own garden.
“The Prime Minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Having failed to reassure people that fracking is safe or good for Britain, Cameron is now railroading it through with a ‘bungs and bulldozers’ approach.
“Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change.
“As ministers chase their imaginary energy Eldorado, the real solutions to boost our energy security, like slashing energy waste and backing renewables, are being sidelined. We’ll all pay a price for their shale craze.”
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 Under government proposals laid out in the consultation, compensation payments of about £20,000 per horizontal well drilled would only go to communities and not to individual landowners. If landowners were to receive any money at all, ministers suggest it would be a ‘nominal’ value of no more than £50. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/313576/Consultation_on_Underground_Drilling_Access__final_web_version.pdf (pg 27)
 Government sources quoted by the FT, Times, and Daily Mail, among others, have indicated that changes to trespass law will be included in the Infrastructure Bill due to be announced in the Queen’s Speech. A Commons Library briefing confirms these reports: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06870/queens-speech-2014
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