The boss of a fracking firm has supported plans to give communities a share of the profits, announced by the Government.

Ministers believe the experience of the USA, where shale gas has been widely exploited, shows the controversial process could boost tax revenues, create jobs, reduce energy imports and bring down household fuel bills.

With moves to tap into the resource controversial among environmental campaigners, the Government has announced proposals for communities to get at least £100,000 for each well in their area.

People living in Balcombe, near Haywards Heath, could be among the first in the UK to benefit, with Cuadrilla already drilling a water well in the area.

Yesterday, the firm told The Argus it would commit one per cent of all its revenues to residents – which it admits could total millions of pounds.

Francis Egan, of Cuadrilla, said it supported the announcement on community benefits scheme.

Mr Egan said: “The UK Government has long recognised, as we have, that local communities must reap long-term benefits from the development of gas and oil from shale.

“Cuadrilla will commit to local communities one per cent of the revenues from each producing site during the production phase.

“With success, this should amount to millions of pounds per individual production site, benefiting local communities.”

But Green MEP Keith Taylor said it was “little wonder” the Government was keen on rewarding communities, adding people were aware of the dangers.

He said: “Rather than paying communities to let corporations drill in their fields the Government should be helping people set up local renewable energy production that they themselves own.

“And, if we’re really serious about curbing the worst effects of climate change we need to be making huge investments in renewables as well as reducing demand.”

Opponents warn that fracking – which involves fracturing rock with high-pressure liquid to release the gas – can cause earthquakes, pollute water supplies, blight the countryside and affect house prices.