Commenting on the government's announcement of reformed planning guidelines for shale developments, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"We have long called for planning reform to help get shale projects up and running and bring an end to the long-winded cycle of applications and appeals. The measures announced sound encouraging, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating - will these measures help applications progress through to drilling and production of shale in the near future?

"These reforms also need to be accompanied by guarantees of benefits to the communities who live on top of these resources. The jobs and supply chain contracts each development will create, along with the suggestion that local councils can retain the business rates from shale gas production in their area, will provide a good foundation for ensuring that shale gas can drive economic growth on a regional basis.

"The UK needs to acknowledge that it has to find a way to meet its rising energy demands while reducing its dependence on imported fuel.

"Fracking can provide a simple and efficient route to diversifying the country's energy supply, while ensuring that we are not haunted by the prospect of winter black-outs or being held to ransom by overseas energy suppliers."