- Ministers fear UK will have to rely on imports and solar and wind power
- Energy Secretary says current system allows ‘dragged out’ applications
- Amber Rudd warns delays could spell ‘death’ of ‘vital national industry’
- UK ‘could import 75% of its oil and gas by 2030 if it doesn’t exploit shale’
Warning: Energy Secretary Amber Rudd (pictured) said the current system allowed applications to be ‘dragged out for months or even years on end’
Fracking sites could be fast-tracked through the planning system under new rules to be announced this week.
Ministers will be given new powers to push through shale gas applications if they are being held up by councils.
It is a response to concerns from ministers that Britain will have to rely on unstable imports and expensive solar and wind power.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd warned the current system allowed applications to be ‘dragged out for months or even years on end’.
The delays could spell the ‘death’ of a ‘vital national industry’, she said.
Miss Rudd warned that Britain could be forced to import three-quarters of all its oil and gas by 2030 if it doesn’t exploit shale.
Applications for shale sites have been held up amid ferocious opposition from green campaigners and and some local residents’ groups.
Ministers are frustrated at Britain’s failure to join the fracking revolution which has transformed energy supplies in the US – and slashed energy bills.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Miss Rudd said: ‘We need more secure, home-grown energy supplies and shale gas must play a part.
‘We can’t continue with a system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end which doesn’t give certainty to industry and which could spell the end of a potentially vital national industry.’
She added: ‘Planning authorities generally fail to meet a target to process environmentally sensitive applications in 16 weeks or less.’
Fired up: Ministers are frustrated at Britain’s failure to join the fracking revolution which has transformed energy supplies in the US (including in Bradford County, Pennsylvania – pictured) – and slashed energy bills
Official estimates suggest shale could create more than 60,000 new jobs in the UK, and bring billions of pounds in revenue for the taxpayer.
It could also see communities benefit, as a slice of revenue is set aside for local councils.
One application by the firm Cuadrilla for wells on the Fylde coast was rejected by Lancashire county council in June, more than a year after it was first submitted. An appeal decision is not expected for many months