Communities secretary Sajid Javid has granted permission for exploratory fracking to take place in the UK.
The ruling means oil and gas company Cuadrilla will be able to explore for shale gas at a site in Lancashire, and possibly at a second location.
The controversial decision was sent to Javid after Cuadrilla appealed against Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) decision to refuse planning permission for the work.
Javid said: “The decisions follow extensive consideration of all the evidence, including an independent planning inspector’s report and evidence submitted during a two-week public inquiry.
“Shale gas has the potential to power economic growth, support 64,000 jobs, and provide a new domestic energy source, making us less reliant on imports.
“When it comes to the financial benefits of shale, our plans mean local communities benefit first.”
Community groups and Friends of the Earth had opposed the plans, which involve pumping water and chemicals into the ground to release gas stored in rock.
FoE said: “Not only is this decision undemocratic, it could open the floodgates for more fracking across the country if the government is willing to overturn decisions made by local councils.”
County councillor Marcus Johnstone, LCC cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “A local council, made up of councillors democratically elected by local people, and charged with serving their interests, is exactly the right body to make decisions on local matters.
“It is clear that 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 councillors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls.”
Last year a committee of MPs called for a halt to fracking in the UK because of environmental risks and greenhouse gas emissions.
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