Almost two-thirds of Britons believe fracking decisions should be taken by local councils rather than the government, according to a new poll from Greenpeace.
It was found that 62 per cent of respondents to a 1,055 person survey by the environmental group did not agree with the government’s decision last August to allow it direct control over approving decisions for local projects.
The survey comes at the start of a public inquiry into whether the go-ahead should be given for shale gas exploration at two sites in Lancashire.
The group is currently staging a protest outside Parliament objecting to the move, complete with a 10-metre fracking rig and drill.
The rig emits a flame every hour that is fired from bio ethanol, while floodlighting and the sound effects of drilling and lorries reverberate around the House of Commons.
A public inquiry is being held after Lancashire County Council turned down shale gas company Cuadrilla's planning application for exploratory drilling and fracking for shale gas at two sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton.
The application at Little Plumpton was turned down last year by the Council on the grounds that it would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and produce considerable noise. The site at Roseacre was refused over traffic concerns with an anticipated 50 HGV movements a day for 12 weeks should the project be approved.
At the inquiry, Alan Evans, a representative of the Council, said that the local authority had turned the planning application at Little Plumpton down against the advice of planning officials, which he suggested was "local democracy in action".
Cuadrilla’s QC, Nathalie Lieven, admitted that the planning applications were controversial.
"However, this is not an inquiry into the rights or wrongs of shale gas extraction and how it relates to the UK's climate change obligations,” she said.
"This is a planning inquiry. Ultimately these are proposed developments where the Government has stated that there is a national need, and where the planning impacts are very limited."
The Government has decided that Communities Secretary Greg Clark will hear the evidence and make the final decision because the proposals are ‘of more than local significance’.
Parliament already approved fracking for shale gas under national parks in December in order to give shale exploration companies access to more resources.
A Labour MP recently claimed that shale gas exploration could help to prop up the UK’s ailing steel industry if the government helps to build strong local supply chains.