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Door opens for shale gas exploration

The Government has stepped up its support for shale gas, sparking a fresh row with environmental groups over the controversial process of 'fracking' for energy.

A report by engineering giant Amec set out the potential benefits of shale gas, including the creation of between 16,000 and 32,000 jobs, and £100,000 to communities where sites are based.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said the gas exploration could bring energy security to the UK. Consultations will be held in the coming months, and a licensing round to allow firms to explore for the gas will be launched in the summer.

But campaign group Friends Of The Earth said: "These plans cast a dark shadow over many communities across Britain who could now face the threat of fracking in their backyard."

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