More than half of the UK's land will be on offer for fracking companies to license for shale gas extraction, according to a map published by the government yesterday (December 17th).
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) revealed that new areas have been opened up in the Midlands, as well as Cumbria and Wales.
All of the various permits and permissions developers will need to obtain prior to drilling for onshore oil and gas are detailed in the regulatory roadmap published by the DECC.
Investors and local communities alike will be offered a degree of certainty regarding the future of shale gas extraction as a result of this newly-released information, which provides detail on what will be entailed by the permitting process.
It is hoped that the UK's energy security will be significantly boosted by large scale production of shale gas, particularly if it is implemented by the 2020s.
Furthermore, the development could make a significant contribution to economic growth and create thousands of jobs.
The addition of various benefit schemes to the project could pump almost £1 billion back into local economies, according to the independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
Energy minister Michael Fallon said that the future of fracking is a very exciting prospect for the UK, citing the growth, job creation and energy security he believes it offers.
'There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won't know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place,' the minister commented, adding: 'Today marks the next step in unlocking the potential of shale gas in our energy mix.
'But we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment, with robust regulation in place.'
All responses to the SEA will be given due consideration by the government before any decision on future licensing is made.