Britain’s Environment Agency said on Monday it would likely approve environmental permits for shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources at a site in northwest England.
The approval, which is pending a second-stage consultation during which the public can comment on the agency’s draft permits, would be a next step for Cuadrilla to press ahead with a four-well exploration programme at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
Britain is betting on the development of shale gas extraction to counter a decline in energy resources from the North Sea, but concerns about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract shale gas have caused local protests.
“The Environment Agency is minded to grant Cuadrilla the environmental permits needed to carry out their operations,” the body said in a statement.
If approved, Cuadrilla’s operations will be subject to stringent environmental rules about the disposal of wastewater used in the exploration process which the agency has put in place to protect ground and surface water.