BRITAIN has given thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash to help fracking in China, it has been revealed – to the anger of cross-party MPs. Foreign Office minister Mark Field has admitted since 2016 the department spent £87,000 on projects to improve the “environmental regulation of shale gas development in China”.
The move has been condemned by politicians, who expressed astonishment that Britain was boosting the economic superpower’s energy sector.
Fracking, which involves breaking open rock layers to release underground gas, has transformed the global energy market but is a source of fierce controversy in the UK.
James Roberts at TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “When it comes to our aid cash, China is big enough to look after itself.
“And at a time when we are crippling our own energy market with rules and regulations, it beggars belief we’re giving the Chinese a leg-up in the shale sector with our foreign aid.”
A senior Conservative source also voiced concern: “The aid budget tops £14billion a year and ministers have lost all financial discipline and control as to where taxpayers’ cash is going.
“To be giving money to China at a time when they threaten our national security is unacceptable.”
Alex Norris, shadow minister for international development, accused the Government of hypocrisy.
He said: “The Tories are hypocritically spending UK aid to support fracking in China, while also announcing the climate crisis will be a top priority of their international development agenda.
“Fracking by the Chinese government has already been suspected of causing three earthquakes this year in Sichuan province.
Fracking is bad for the environment and bad for our climate, which is why Labour will ban it in the UK.”
Nerissa Chesterfield, head of communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said it was time to cut theaid budget and “offer genuine aid for countries who need it”.
She added: “Police budgets have been cut and schools work on a shoestring, and yet our foreign aid budget remains ring-fenced and used to advise the world’s second largest economy on environmental regulation.”
The Foreign Office has argued working with China was a national security priority. (Image: GETTY)
The Foreign Office has argued working with China was a national security priority as it was an opportunity to influence the future of the superpower.
A spokeswoman said: “Britain’s aid helps the UK to create opportunities, peace and prosperity worldwide, which is in the national interest.
“In China shale gas is a ‘transition’ fuel as the country moves away from coal. Sharing UK expertise will help to ensure that the exploration and development of shale gas meets higher environmental standards.”