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Fast-Track Frack Licences ‘Vital To Protect Britain’

Tim Shipman, The Sunday Times

Fracking for shale gas is to be fast-tracked because it will give Britain greater energy security and protect it from Russian aggression, the new Tory energy minister has revealed.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Matthew Hancock said the government would make it “much quicker” for companies to get approval to drill for shale gas.

At present firms that want to frack have to wait about six months for permission through a 15-stage process. Hancock hopes to slash that in half. Calling shale the “holy grail” of energy policy, he said: “I want to speed up shale. It takes too long at the moment. We have to ensure that instead of an array of complicated permissions we have very firm but very clear rules.”

Hancock, 35, was promoted to attend cabinet as Tory spokesman on energy and business in David Cameron’s recent reshuffle. He warned that tensions with Russia following the shooting-down of flight MH17 meant Britain should seek to become energy self-sufficient.

He said: “Shale gas has the opportunity to increase our energy security, potentially to cut costs and also to reduce carbon emissions by reducing the amount of coal that we burn. Those three are the holy grail for energy policy.

“With what we’ve seen in Russia over recent weeks, the importance of an indigenous energy supply can’t be overestimated.”

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