"However, we believe that it is right to utilise our domestic gas resources to the maximum extent and exploring further the potential for onshore gas production from shale rock formations in the United Kingdom, where it is economically efficient, and where environment impacts are robustly regulated", they wrote.
The government's plans would "pervert the planning process" and force fracking on communities says Friends of the Earth.
The package was announced yesterday (May 17) as part of the Government's modern industrial strategy, and includes an easing up of the regulation process for shale applications and the setting up of a new planning brokerage service which would focus "exclusively on the planning process and will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications.' Also announced was a £1.6m 'shale support fund" to build capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications. "Instead, the Conservatives are planning to railroad it through against the wishes of local people and the wider public".
"Communities and their local councils across the United Kingdom have said no in every way they can, but the government have turned a deaf ear to everyone who doesn't own fossil fuel company. Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the United Kingdom could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas".
The announcement has been welcomed by the shale gas industry.
She said shale gas had the potential to lower energy prices, although opponents of the technology say there is no evidence this will happen in the UK.
"We are clear that it should be up to local communities to decide whether or not to host fracking operations in their areas". In the last two years our exploration operations are responsible for driving nearly £9m into the Lancashire local economy and creating 60 local jobs. Our planning permission to drill and test just four shale gas exploratory wells in Lancashire was granted after a lengthy and costly three year process.
Commercial production of shale gas in Britain is not expected for two years and developers complain that progress has been slowed by protests and regulatory processes. "These timelines must improve if the country is to benefit from its own, much needed, indigenous source of gas", Egan said.
And fracking in widely used in the U.S., where it has revolutionised the energy industry.
"As a result, the United Kingdom is becoming ever more dependent on Russian and Middle Eastern gas, with British money funding foreign powers at the rate of £500m a month instead of generating jobs and tax revenues in this country", she said. "Today's announcement goes some way to ensuring that our energy security is protected and the benefits we have already seen flowing into communities become much more widespread".