LONDON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Britain will use new powers to determine whether to allow shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources to carry out fracking at two sites in northwest England, overruling local planning decisions.
Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of shale gas trapped in underground rocks and Prime Minister Cameron has pledged to go all out to extract these reserves, to help offset declining North Sea oil and gas output.
Yet fracking applications have struggled to find approval from local communities, concerned about noise and environmental impacts, and to address this the government has changed planning rules to make its own decisions on shale gas appeals.
Local government minister Greg Clark has informed Lancashire County Council of the minister's intention to himself determine Cuadrilla's appeal on two rejected permits in the area in northwest England.
"Ministers have decided to recover Cuadrilla's appeals for shale exploration in Lancashire," the government said in a letter to the council dated Nov. 26.
Cuadrilla's wells in Lancashire would be the first British shale gas wells where fracking is applied since hydraulic fracturing at a separate project near Blackpool, in Lancashire, triggered an earth tremor that resulted in an 18-month ban on the technology in 2011.
John Williams, senior principal consultant at the consultancy Poyry Management said a decision on the appeal could be made by the second half of 2016 but rules requiring the company to monitor water supplies at the site for 12 months before fracking can start would delay any gas extraction.
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