The U.K. government has approved a horizontal fracking permit at a Cuadrilla site in Lancashire, northern England, in a ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for the shale gas industry.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said that it was also minded to approve a second permit, Reuters reported, but required more evidence on road safety. The decision overrules one made by Lancashire County Council against the permits last year, Reuters added.
Fracking involves fracturing shale through an hydraulic process to obtain oil or gas. A ban on fracking in the U.K. was lifted in 2012.
In a statement, exploration and production company Cuadrilla said that it welcomed the decision.
"We are very pleased that we can now move ahead with our shale gas exploration plans which will start to create new economic growth opportunities and jobs for people in Lancashire and the U.K.," Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said.
"We are confident that our operations will be safe and responsible and the comprehensive site monitoring program planned by regulators and independent academics will in due course conclusively demonstrate this," Egan went on to add.
"We hope this will reassure the minority of people whom remain skeptical about shale gas exploration."
The U.K.'s Green Party Co-leader Caroline Lucas took to Twitter to describe the development as a "disastrous decision for environment, climate and local people."