A £1 billion shale wealth fund unveiled by former chancellor George Osborne in November will set aside up to 10% of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit the communities hosting wells, The Press Association reported.
But now the Prime Minister is amending the scheme so the money can go direct to residents rather than being given to councils or community trusts to spend, as Mr Osborne planned.
The fund could go some way to countering resident resistance to fracking, but was called “little more than a bribe” by the Green Party.
Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato said the move showed the Tories’ “talent for dividing communities”.
“This is bound to set household against household and can only exacerbate community tensions,” she said.
And indicated that the model could be applied to other Government programmes, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy charge on property development in England and Wales.
“The Government I lead will be always be driven by the interests of the many - ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise,” said Mrs May.
“As I said on my first night as Prime Minister: when we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful but of you.”
“We’ll be looking at applying this approach to other Government programmes in the future too, as we press on with the work of building a country that works for everyone”
Under Mrs May’s changes, the option of giving money direct to residents will have to be considered when decisions are made on how to share proceeds from the Shale Wealth Fund, though cash could still go to councils to fund community improvements.
A British Geological Survey (BGS) study of shale gas across the north of England estimated total reserves of 1,300 trillion cubic feet - the equivalent of more than 500 years of UK gas consumption at current levels.
The Government is seeking comments on its proposals for a Shale Wealth Fund and will publish its response to the consultation later this year.