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Britain’s Shale Revolution Set To Take Off As Ministers Vow To Force Local Areas To Accept New Gas Projects

Steve Hawkes, The Sun

BRITAIN’S long-delayed fracking revolution was given a huge boost last night as Ministers vowed to take on “scaremongering” protestors by turbo-charging the planning process.

Energy Minister Claire Perry said the North Sea had been a “Great British success story” but the country needed to find new supplies of gas.

The Government said it wants shale gas exploration to be treated as a “permitted development” by councils to speed-up the search for new reserves.

And Ministers want to add fracking to a list of “nationally significant infrastructure projects” to force town halls to stand up to campaigners and approve drilling in their patch.

Furious green campaigners said it would make it as easy to explore for shale gas as “building a conservatory”.

But officials said it was critical to kick-start the expansion of fracking to reduce the UK’s reliance on gas from countries such as Russia.

Business Secretary Greg Clark wants to encourage more frackingSo far just a handful of shale gas exploration projects have been given the thumbs up despite ex-PM David Cameron’s call for a fracking revolution four years ago.

Ms Perry told The Sun: “There are those that argue strongly against shale gas using the most colourful and scaremongering language they can find and intimidating local communities and decision makers with lots of protestors from out of town.

“In my experience most of these arguments are made by people who actually just don’t want us to use gas at all – now or ever.

“Shale gas extraction could provide a big economic boost for local communities sitting atop the shale fields – bringing thousands of high quality jobs, local investment and financial benefits to many parts of the country.”

Energy giant Cuadrilla immediately welcomed the announcement – pointing out that its bid to drill four exploratory wells in Lancashire took “three costly years”.

Francis Egan said: “These timelimes must improve if the country is to benefit from its own, much needed, indigenous source of gas.”

But the move sparked fury from green campaigners and Green Party chief Caroline Lucas.

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