LONDON (AA) – A fierce debate over fracking has erupted in Britain after a local authority gave permission to the country’s first project to drill deep underground in five years.
An energy company will now be allowed to proceed with its plans to extract shale gas from the North York Moors national park in the north of England, despite opposition from residents and environmentalists.
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 in North York Moors will use a well that is 3.2 kilometers [two miles] deep.
No fracking had 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.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Simon Bowens said the local authority had made “an absolute travesty of a decision but the battle is very far from over”.
He said in a statement: “Despite this decision, public support for fracking is plummeting as Wales, Scotland and countries across Europe have suspended it. The risks to people’s health and the environment are unacceptable and we will fight on.”
Environmental campaigners said they feared the approval will encourage other fracking applications elsewhere in the country.
Rasik Valand, whose company Third Energy was granted permission, told the local Yorkshire Post newspaper that it would be “many, many months” before fracking began and that he believed opponents’ “fears will diminish”.