Planning permission has been granted for two shale gas test drilling sites in Nottinghamshire – starting a process which could lead to fracking.
Nottinghamshire County Council said the first site, next to Springs Road, Misson in Bassetlaw, has been given the go-ahead with 37 separate conditions put in place to minimise the impact of the development on the environment and people living nearby.
Energy firm Island Gas Limited had first submitted the application for the former Cold War missile test site in October 2016.
It had already been voted through by the council but needed a final legal agreement sign-off, which has now been finalised.
The second site, on land off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth, has been given the green light with 52 conditions after an application by Dart Energy.
Shale gas development is tightly regulated in the UK and requires planning permission from the council, with approvals, checks and permits from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and the Oil and Gas Authority.
The two test drilling sites will assess whether there are enough resources in rock below the surface to start fracking to extract gas – which would need further planning applications.
Fracking involves the hydraulic fracturing of rocks by pumping water and chemicals at high pressure to release gas to be used for energy.
Supporters say it can create energy at low cost and create jobs, but many environmental campaigners have opposed it, saying it can harm wildlife and cause pollution.
Experts believe that the Bowland Hodder Shale, a bed of rock lying beneath northern and central England, including Notts could contain significant supplies of gas.
Both applications had been subject to long debate and attracted thousands of letters of objection, along with a campaign run by the group Frack Free Notts.
Opponents of fracking say it harms the environment and causes too much disruption to neighbouring homes and wildlife. Supporters say it creates jobs and is an effective way of the UK generating its own gas resources.
— Save The Earth Coop (@thepeoplescoop) May 24, 2017
Sally Gill Planning Group Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “The planning permissions for exploratory drilling at Springs Road Misson and Tinker Lane, between Barnby Moor and Blyth were both subject to the signing of legal agreements.
“The permission is for test drilling, no hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is included as part of either development.”