Fracking could start in Britain within months after the government intervened to fast-track applications to drill shale gas wells in Lancashire.
Greg Clark, the communities secretary, wrote to lawyers for Cuadrilla yesterday saying that he had decided to have the final say on its appeals against Lancashire county council’s rejection of its fracking applications.
The government has pledged to go “all out for shale” and in August announced changes in planning rules under which such appeals “will be treated as a priority for urgent resolution”.
Under the new rules, Mr Clark can intervene in appeals by “recovering” them and deciding the outcome himself. Under the normal process, an independent planning inspector would make the decision after hearing all the evidence.
In the letter, Mr Clark said he had issued the direction “because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas”. He said that this amounted to proposals “for development of major importance” which had “more than local significance”.