Britain has approved a controversial horizontal fracking project in northern England, allowing an energy company to drill deep underground for the first time in more than five years.
Energy company Cuadrilla will now be allowed to proceed with its plans to drill for shale gas at a rural site in Lancashire, despite opposition from residents and environmentalists.
The local authority had refused permission on the grounds of excessive noise and traffic in the area, but the U.K. government announced Thursday that it was overturning that decision.
A U.K. government spokesman said the decision was taken following “extensive consideration of all the evidence, including an independent planning inspector’s report and evidence submitted during a two-week public inquiry.”
A local environmentalist group said it was “disgusted at the decision,” while Greenpeace urged the government to consider renewable and smart energy technologies instead.
Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin said in a written statement: “This fudged decision shows the government is struggling to force fracking on a reluctant nation.
“Fracking will put our countryside and air quality at risk. Digging up more fossil fuels that we can’t burn if we are to honour the international agreement we signed in Paris and is coming into force soon makes little economic or environmental sense.”
Pressure and quakes
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a technique that involves pumping liquid at high pressure deep into ground rock in order to release trapped gas, which can then be used to generate energy.
The procedure has not taken place anywhere in Britain since 2011 when a project in northwest England caused two minor earthquakes.
The U.K. government placed a ban on the practice following that incident but lifted it the following year, saying experts believed it only needed stricter monitoring.