Dealing with fracking applications at a national level is undermining local democracy, campaigners have warned, after a company was given the final go-ahead to carry to undertake the controversial process at a site in Lancashire by the Government.
Shale firm Cuadrilla was yesterday granted permission to frack at the site at Preston New Road, subject to certain conditions being met.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said the company had met all the necessary environmental and health and safety measures in order to give it the go-ahead.
It comes as Third Energy continues to wait for Government approval to begin its own test drilling in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire.
Petrochemical firm Ineos last month won an appeal for exploratory drilling near Rotherham, to carry out tests at Common Lane, Harthill.
In the latest decision in Lancashire, Ms Perry said certain conditions had to be met, including supplying the Business and Energy Department with the latest accounts for co-investor Spirit Energy, before Cuadrilla can begin fracking.
She said that shale gas had the potential to be a new domestic energy source “further enhancing our energy security and helping us with our continued transition to a lower-carbon economy”.
Ms Perry added: "It also has the capacity to deliver substantial economic benefits, both nationally and locally, as well as through the creation of well-paid, high-quality jobs.
"We already have an excellent, long-standing reputation for safe oil and gas exploration.
"Our world-class regulations will ensure that shale exploration will maintain robust environmental standards and meet the expectations of local communities."
Steve Mason, from the Frack Free United and Frack Free Rydedale campaign groups, said: “They are now blatantly allowing fracking companies to trample on communities across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.
"The move shows a complete failure to take local opinion seriously let alone climate change. It has never been more urgent to increase our use of renewable energy and yet the government are backing fracking.
"This must have alarm bells ringing for everyone who believes in local democracy."