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The United Kingdom is one step closer to launching hydraulic fracturing, after local planning officials recommended the approval of plans to drill and test flow shale gas at a site in the north of England, The Guardian reported.

Energy firm Cuadrilla had applied to extract shale gas at two sites: Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Both are located between Blackpool and Preston.

After a full evaluation of the proposals, Lancashire County Council's senior planning officer recommended approval of the application for Preston New Road but said that the plans for Roseacre Wood should be refused because of concerns about heavy traffic.

The report was satisfied with measures relating to air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, earthquakes, water use and visual aspects at the two sites.

Councillors will take the final decision on the application next week.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into a well at high pressure to extract oil or natural gas. Concerns about the possible environmental risks posed by the controversial method — including pollution of drinking water reserves and an increase in seismic activity — have delayed its launch in many countries, including the U.K.

Small earthquakes linked to Cuadrilla's activity in 2011 led to a moratorium on fracking. After that was lifted the company submitted plans for up to four exploration wells at each of the two sites.

Restrictions on fracking may have eased in England, but in Scotland a new moratorium on fracking has been declared and Wales looks set to do the same.