Government will step in if councils don’t fast-track fracking applications

Ministers will intervene on planning applications for controversial fracking operations if local authorities fail to act quickly enough, the government announced on Thursday, in a bid to fast-track fracking.

Industry and the government have been frustrated at the slow rate of progress on exploratory fracking for shale gas and oil in the UK, which has been bogged down in the planning process. Ministers have been told that applications to drill and frack in Lancashire could be delayed by 16 months in an appeals process after they were rejected by Lancashire county council.

Under the new planning guidance issued today, councils will be strongly encouraged to meet the existing deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking applications. Greg Clark, the secretary of state for communities, will now systematically be able to ‘call in’ applications and decide himself.

David Cameron said last year that the government is “going all out for shale” and energy secretary, Amber Rudd, said after the general election that she would “deliver shale”.

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