Go ahead for shale gas exploration in Ribble Valley

New licences for onshore gas and oil exploration in 159 blocks, included in the Forest of Bowland, have been granted in a move campaigners say could open swathes of the country to fracking.

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Controversy ahead as swathes of the NW earmarked for fracking

It's claimed years of conservation could be put at risk after the government approved a raft of new licences here in the North West to explore for shale gas. The 28 new licences could pave the way for more controversial fracking from Cheshire to South Cumbria. It would be one of the most intensive areas for fracking in Britain. Despite considerable opposition, the government says 'it's time to press ahead with shale gas, providing secure, home grown energy for decades to come'. This assessment now from our correspondent, Elaine Willcox.

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