Fracking in Lancashire moved a step closer after exploration company Cuadrilla was granted permits by the Environment Agency.
The firm was given the environmental permits it needs to carry out operations safely at its proposed shale gas site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton near Kirkham.
The Environment Agency said that over the last six months it had conducted a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s applications and carried out two periods of extensive public consultation.
The permits set out the conditions Cuadrilla must follow to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of wastes.
Steve Molyneux, Environment Manager for Lancashire, said on Friday morning: “After completing a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s application and the public consultation responses, we are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected.
“The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely and protect local water resources.
“We value the feedback received during the public consultation and will continue to work with the local community.
“Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced.”
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla CEO, said: “We are delighted that the Environment Agency has granted our permits for our proposed exploration site at Preston New Road.
“This is an important seal of approval from the regulator that the exploration of shale gas can be done responsibly.
“This follows a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications and unequivocally demonstrates that, as we have committed, the local environment will be well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations.”