England’s local government minister is to make the final decision whether to approve or reject the application from onshore oil exploration company Cuadrilla to bore test wells for shale gas in Lancashire.
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said this was because the Cuadrilla applications raised national – rather than simply local – issues.
He said he took the decision because the appeals involved “proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties”.
Clark will also rule on two appeals, at the same time as the main fracking appeals, against a refusal to allow Cuadrilla seismic monitoring in the county.
A planning inspector will still hear the appeal next year and will forward recommendations to the government for Clark to decide.
In June 2015, Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s fracking applications on two sites in Lancashire – Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton.
In Scotland, the government has imposed a moratorium on fracking/ shale gas planning applications pending a two year review period which will conclude long after the 2016 Scottish general elections.