Fracking companies yesterday urged the government to press forward with plans to fast-track their applications following an intervention by Amber Rudd, the energy secretary.
Rudd’s colleague at the ministry, Andrea Leadsom, echoed the secretary of state’s support for fracking, telling City A.M.: “We are exploring ways to really kickstart the industry as we know it could support over 60,000 jobs and lead to tens of billions of pounds of investment in the UK.”
She added: “It makes total sense that we make the most of this home grown energy source we have right here in Britain instead of relying more and more on volatile foreign gas imports.”
The government’s new guidance will give ministers powers to push decisions past planners.
In a statement, industry body United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas said: “We have already stated the government needs to take a strategic view of how to ensure these planning decisions are made in the prescribed timescales. The lengthy delays experienced so far are bad for industry and bad for the communities involved.”
Rudd, writing in the Sunday Times, said: “The government will be writing to planning authorities this week to make clear there is a national need to explore shale gas in a safe, sustainable and timely way… Getting shale exploration up and running is a key part of our long-term plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy.”
The government’s decision to throw its weight behind the fracking industry follows the Lancashire county council’s verdict in June to block shale gas company Cuadrilla’s application to drill wells on the Fylde coast.
It took Lancashire county council over a year to reach its decision on Cuadrilla’s application.