The UK Government has over-ruled Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) refusal to grant permission for exploratory fracking by energy company Cuadrilla.

The move paves the way for shale gas exploration to start in Lancashire with a decision on whether to allow fracking at a second site expected to be granted pending a request for further information.

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: "This was one of the biggest planning applications ever put before any council – literally tens of thousands of people responded to the consultation processes, and the applications involved substantial levels of technical detail.

"Our development control committee carefully considered many hours of evidence both for and against the proposal, and the committee members ultimately cast their vote based on the evidence they heard and whether they thought the proposal was acceptable in planning terms.

"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.”

‘Change is inevitable’

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities, 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. We will take the big decisions that matter to the future of our country as we build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin said the decision raised questions about the UK Government's commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“This fudged decision shows the Government is struggling to force fracking on a reluctant nation," she said.

> Read the LCC statement here