The final decision on whether fracking in Lancashire should proceed or not is to be made by the UK Government.
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, sent a letter to Lancashire County Council of his intent yesterday.
It comes as fracking firm Cuadrilla appealed against the council’s decision to reject the company’s planning applications to explore for shale gas at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton earlier this year.
The letter stated the decision on those applications will be made by the minister “as the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significant and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control and/or legal difficulties”.
A spokesman from the Department of Communities and Local Government added: “Ministers have decided to recover Cuadrilla’s appeals for shale exploration in Lancashire. They consider these proposals are of more than local significance and raise important issues of planning development control.”
The council will prepare a report and recommendation instead of making the final decision.
A Cuadrilla spokesperson said it looks forward to presenting its case at the Public Inquiry in February.
Earlier this week Chancellor George Osborne pledged to support the creation of the shale gas industry in the UK as part of his Spending Review after the government said it would fast-track fracking applications under a new process.