A new round of onshore oil and gas exploration licences will be granted within weeks after energy secretary Amber Rudd decided to award them in two stages to speed up the development of fracking.
The fledgling industry has suffered a series of setbacks, including Lancashire county council’s rejection last month of a fracking application by Cuadrilla Resources.
The government wants to give renewed impetus to the technology, which it says could generate billions in tax revenues, create thousands of jobs and stoke a new era of cheap domestic energy.
It will now grant some licences from the 14th onshore round, which was launched last year, and delay others that require additional environmental checks. The process attracted 95 applications for 295 blocks.