Horizontal fracking can go ahead, the British government has said, in a landmark ruling for the UK shale gas industry. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has approved plans for fracking at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in Lancashire.
Environmentalists and local campaign groups reacted angrily, saying it was a denial of local democracy. It means, for the first time, UK shale rock will be fracked horizontally, which is expected to yield more gas.
A second site, Roseacre Wood, has not yet been given the green light amid concerns over the impact on the area.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) refused permission to extract shale gas at both sites last year on the grounds of noise and traffic impact, but Cuadrilla appealed. In response to the decision, LCC has called on the government to do more to address people's concerns about fracking.
It is clear the government supports the development of a shale gas industry, but I would ask them to do more to address the concerns of local communities and the councilors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls, it said.
Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: We have been through an exhaustive environmental impact assessment on this. We have assessed everything; noise, traffic, water, emissions, etc. The Environment Agency are entirely comfortable with it.
Javid said the shale gas industry would support thousands of jobs and reduce the UK's reliance on energy imports.
When it comes to the financial benefits of shale, our plans mean local communities benefit first, he said.
Responding to the ruling Councilor Judith Blake, from the Local Government Association, said: It should be up to local communities to decide, through their locally democratic planning systems, whether or not to host fracking operations in their areas.
She said residents' safety concerns should be adequately addressed.
People living near fracking sites - who are most affected by them - have a right to be heard, said Councillor Blake.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Pollyanna Steiner said: Fracking goes against everything we need to do to tackle climate change.
The government must end its fixation with dirty fossil fuels and focus instead on harnessing the UK's huge renewable energy resource.
Pam Foster, co-founder of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, said: This is a total denial of democracy. Our parish council, our borough council, our county council all threw out this application.
We have pursued every democratic channel we can do, there's nothing left for us. We're pretty disgusted and very upset” (BBC).-