Energy firm Cuadrilla has secured environmental permits from the UK Environment Agency for the proposed shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, Plumpton in Lancashire.

The environmental permits, which follow six-month assessment of Cuadrilla’s applications and two periods of extensive public consultation, enable the company to perform operations safely at the proposed shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road.

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: "This is an important seal of approval from the regulator that the exploration of shale gas can be done responsibly.

"This follows a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications, and unequivocally demonstrates that, as we have committed, the local environment will be well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations."

Cuadrilla, as per the permit conditions, must protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and should ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste.

Environment Agency Lancashire environment manager Steve Molyneux said: "After completing a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s application and the public consultation responses, we are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected.

"The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely, and protect local water resources.

"Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced."