THE minister of state for energy and climate change said fracking in Lancashire could ‘greatly strengthen’ the UK’s energy security and economy.

Andrea Leadsom spoke out after a new process to stop local councils delaying proposals for the process were revealed.

She said: “Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity for the UK.


“The industry could be worth billions of pounds to our economy, provide more than 60,000 jobs, while also increasing our energy security.

“This is why we want to get shale exploration moving so we can know for certain what is there and how much we can get out of the ground.

“Geological surveys tell us that there could be significant shale gas resources deep beneath the ground in Lancashire. If it is there and we can capture it, that gas would greatly strengthen our energy security.

“We are a one nation Government and backing shale is part of our plan to ensure the economic potential of all parts of the UK is realised.”

She continued: “I understand people have concerns about whether fracking is safe, but the UK has more than 50 years of drilling experience and we have the best record in the world for economic development while protecting our environment and people.”

David Penny, of Keep East Lancashire Frack Free, described the government’s plans to fast-track fracking applications as alarming.

He said: “It confirms the government is so determined on fracking it will by-pass local democracy. This makes it virtually certain Cuadrilla will seek to frack in East Lancashire in the current round of licence applications.”

The controversial new proposals mean ministers will be able to call in any application for fracking and appeals against the refusal of applications will be prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate.

It follows Lancashire County Council refusing two applications from Cuadrilla to frack between Blackpool and Preston. It is appealing the decisions.