THE cost of policing fracking in the past two years has cost Lancashire Police almost £12million, a report has revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report has revealed between 25 and 100 police officers were 'directly involved' in policing fracking sites within the county every day between January 2017 and June 2019, costing £11.8million.

The report also revealed the government's plan to establish the UK shale gas industry through fracking is taking longer than expected.

Fracking is the process of extracting gas and oil from shale rock wells by using highly pressurised water, sand and chemicals.

The report comes amid ongoing public concern over the effects of fracking on the environment and public health.

In August this year, a tremor measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale was detected at a Cuadrilla fracking site near Blackpool, the largest ever recorded at the site.

Fracking has been indefinitely suspended since.

The report estimated that at least £32.7 million had been spent by public bodies since 2011, although the full costs are not known.

As well as Lancashire police, North Yorkshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police have incurred costs.

The NAO also found that operations have proved costly for local authorities and police forces, which manage anti-fracking protests, traffic disruption and general public safety at the sites.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Doug Parr said the government has "wasted well over £1 per UK household propping up a pointless and divisive pursuit of a fossil fuel that our commitments to decarbonisation mean we can hardly use."

In 2016 the Cabinet Office said it expected that up to 20 wells would have been fracked by mid-2020, but only three have been fracked to date.

Site operators have said the system to protect against the risk of earthquakes is stricter than that used internationally and claim that this has hindered their ability to develop the industry, the report said.

Following its publication, shadow business and energy secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, condemned the fracking operations.

She said: "The Tory-Lib Dem coalition and now the Tory government have wasted millions pushing an industry that is unpopular across the UK and fiercely opposed locally."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "The government has always said shale gas exploration can only proceed as long as it is safe and environmentally responsible.

"The Oil and Gas Authority will soon publish a finalised scientific assessment of recent industry data and we will set out our future approach as soon as we have considered the findings."