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Today the UK Government will start a five-week public appeal into whether British shale gas company Cuadrilla can continue to explore in Lancashire, a region in North West England.

Two planning applications submitted by Cuadrilla Resources to Lancashire County Council in June 2014 will be reviewed. The planning applications were previously rejected in June 2015 on noise, visual and traffic impact grounds.

The inquiry will be opened by the government planning inspector, who will collect testimonials from more than 40 witnesses through the course of the appeal process and prepare a report with recommendations to the UK Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. During todayā€™s meeting of the planning inquiry, opening statements will be made by Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council, as well as Friends of the Earth and two local activist groups.

The final decision is expected in mid-March.

The UK is facing some critical energy challenges. Over the last 15 years, the country has become increasingly dependent on foreign imports due to falling oil and gas production in the North Sea. Shale gas could provide a new source of domestic, secure and reliable energy supply and the government is committed to exploring this option. The outcome of this appeal process is important. It could lead to the UK finally developing a commercially viable shale gas industry ā€“ the first in Europe.

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