Shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources received a boost in its plan to start fracking in north west England on Monday when local government recommended that its application to construct up to four exploration wells should be granted.
The company’s project at Preston New Road near Blackpool could become Britain’s first shale gas production wells, and could lead a drive to develop the unconventional resource as Britain’s North Sea gas and oil production declines.
The council, however, recommended another application for a nearby site at Roseacre Wood should not be granted because of the impact on local roads.
The applications will be discussed further at Lancashire County Council meetings next week, where a final decision will be made.
Obtaining planning permits has been the biggest obstacle to shale gas developments, and the applications by Cuadrilla have been held up for months.
Shale gas fracking is opposed by environmentalists, who claim the method of blasting water and chemicals at rock formations to release trapped gas can contaminate ground water and cause earth tremors.
As well as Cuadrilla, AIM-listed company IGas Energy has had plans to start fracking in the area.