Campaigners claim 'attack on democracy' in fracking application process
Campaigners fear fracking applications could ultimately be decided upon by the Government instead of local councils in "another attack on democracy".
A letter leaked to Friends Of The Earth suggests ministers want to promote shale gas exploration and potentially bring the industry under the umbrella of nationally significant infrastructure planning.
Such a designation would mean that the final say on fracking applications would likely rest with the Communities Secretary.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of Friends Of The Earth, said: "The Government is planning another attack on democracy in relation to fracking.
"The Prime Minister has said that communities would have a fair say in whether or not fracking should happen near them, but as this letter makes clear, this isn't being reflected or honoured in the highest levels of government."
The letter was reportedly sent from the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark and the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to Chancellor George Osborne.
A Government spokeswoman stressed communities will "always be involved" in the planning application process.
"We are backing shale because it's good for our energy security and will help create jobs and growth," she said.
"We need to press ahead and get exploration under way so that we can determine how much shale gas there is and how much we can use.
"Ministers have made very clear that communities will always be involved in planning applications and people's safety and the environment will remain paramount."