LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - British officials have adjourned until Wednesday the process for deciding on whether to grant shale gas firm Cuadrilla a project planning permit in northwest England.
If approved, the shale gas project at Preston New Road near Blackpool could become Britain's first producing shale gas site.
Officials at Lancashire County Council deferred a decision to Wednesday as they ran out of time whilst hearing evidence that included testimonials from local residents and businesses.
The meeting will resume at 0900 GMT on Wednesday.
The officials will decide whether to grant a second shale gas planning application submitted by Cuadrilla on Thursday.
"This week will see one of the most significant milestones in the development of the nascent UK shale gas industry," said Hamish McArdle, partner at law firm Baker Botts, who has advised shale gas companies.
Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of gas trapped in underground shale formations and the national government has been supportive of developing these reserves to counter declining North Sea oil and gas output.
However, progress has been slow because of local opposition to hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - due to environmental concerns.
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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