A High Court judge has dismissed two legal challenges by anti-fracking protesters over the way communities secretary Sajid Javid granted planning permission for fracking at a site in Lancashire.
Permission to start fracking at Cuadrilla Resources' Preston New Road site was granted in October last year by Javid, who overruled an earlier decision from Lancashire County Council.
The firm started work at its shale exploration site in January.
Preston New Road Action Group argued the planning application approval for the site in Fylde was neither fair nor lawful, but Justice Dove today rejected the claims.
Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan welcomed the verdict, saying: "We are very pleased that the planning inspector’s recommendation and the secretary of state's decision to grant planning consent has been upheld by the High Court.
"This is also great news for all those local businesses and workers in Lancashire that are currently and will in the future be benefiting from the increased revenue and job opportunities that our operations are bringing to the county."
Construction at the site continues, and drilling will begin in the next couple of months, Egan said.
Cuadrilla has held off from fracking since 2010 when its activities caused earth tremors in Blackpool.
Pat Davies, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, slammed the decision, saying the ramifications of bypassing the local planning committee and local community's wishes will be immense.
"If a planning process can be controlled by external corporate interests and the government policy of the moment, it is neither fit for purpose and begs the question whether local democracy now plays any valid part in the planning process," Davies argued.
The council rejected Cuadrilla's planning applications last year due to expected increased noise and a negative "visual impact" at the New Preston Road site, and the impact of traffic on nearby residents at Roseacre Wood.