Scottish Moratorium, Planning Delay Dent Cameron's Shale Gas Ambitions
LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Scotland on Wednesday blocked the granting of permits for fracking and a local English council delayed a decision on two projects, casting doubt on British Prime Minister David Cameron's shale gas ambitions.
Cameron has said he will go "all out for shale" to help stem a decline in North Sea oil and gas output, but environmental concerns about the use of the fracking technology used to unleash gas trapped in rocks have turned sentiment more negative.
Scotland, estimated to have around 80 trillion cubic metres of shale gas resources - enough to cover all of Britain's gas needs for more than 30 years - imposed a moratorium on planning permits until it examines the health impact and other consequences of extraction.
"I am announcing today a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking," Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told the Scottish Parliament.
Hours earlier a local government council delayed a decision on whether to allow shale gas firm Cuadrilla to progress with two fracking projects after a hotly contested debate.
Officials at Lancashire County Council in northwest England said last week Cuadrilla's applications should be rejected when the council voted, because the work would be too noisy and create too much traffic.
In response Cuadrilla, chaired by ex-BP boss John Browne, laid out changes it could make, which councillors opened for public consultation for at least eight weeks, hence deferring their decision.
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