Government lets fracking companies drill exploratory wells despite ban on extracting shale gas

The Government has opened the door to future fracking by refusing to ban the drilling of exploratory wells, campaigners fear.

Before the general election ministers placed a moratorium on fracking for shale gas, saying the process cannot be done safely without disrupting local communities.

But they have now confirmed that the ban – which is not written into law – does not cover exploratory drilling by energy companies to work out which areas of land is most suitable for shale gas extraction.