Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Policy Adviser at the Institute of Directors, commented: “These new licences are a step forward in getting this much-delayed industry off the ground.
“Combined with the Energy Secretary’s announcement last week that she is prepared to intervene when applications get bogged down in the planning system, we hope we are finally reaching the point where the UK can benefit from our substantial shale reserves.
“Shale offers an opportunity for the UK to address the three most important energy challenges we face. Fracking can help us to ensure secure supplies of energy, produce it affordably and reduce emissions.
“We currently import the gas we need to generate electricity and heat our homes from overseas, so it makes sense to produce it here if possible.
“Shale has been transformative in the US, and even if we don’t see as large falls in the price of gas here, it will still make a difference to chemicals industry, which uses natural gas liquids in everything from fertilisers to plastics. Properly regulated, fracking is a safe process which is consistent with the UK’s carbon reduction plans.
“Shale extraction and associated industries can provide jobs and tax revenues for the UK. With oil and gas prices falling, and North Sea production collapsing, we face a significant challenge to catch up with the US and keep industry in the UK.
The longer we delay, the more we lose out.”