Campaign groups have lined up in opposition to fracking as the bidding process for licences gets underway, with claims that the process is bad for the environment and unsafe to the public.
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth say plans to protect National Parks will not quieten protesters, adding that communities should be offered the same safeguards.
Today the risk of fracking has spread. This threat to the environment and public health could now affect millions more people.
Ministers waited until the parliamentary recess to make their move, no doubt aware of the political headache this will cause to MPs whose constituencies will be affected.
More top news
Fire service confirms that two buildings have collapsed in an explosion thought to have been caused by a gas leak.
Famous global landmarks fell dark for 60 minutes to mark Earth Hour, a campaign urging awareness and action on climate change.
Police have shut off part of the famous Las Vegas Strip after a gun man barricaded himself inside a bus after killing at least one.