LONDON Feb 14 Plans to explore for shale gas on a site in a national park located southwest of London have been temporarily put on hold by the local authority after the application received an unprecedented number of responses.
The British government is strongly supporting the development of shale gas by offering favourable tax terms as it seeks to reduce dependence on gas imports.
Opposition to the unconventional drilling method has been growing in Britain, however, on grounds that it is harmful to the environment and that one project had triggered earth tremors.
The South Downs National Park Authority has requested oil and gas explorer Celtique Energie Weald to submit more details on noise and geological aspects of its application to drill for oil and gas and, if found to be present, later extract shale gas on a site at Fernhurst.
"National Park will be submitting a request for further information," the authority's chief executive, Trevor Beattie, said at a planning meeting late on Thursday, according to his speech sent to Reuters.
"This will put the Fernhurst application on hold whilst the applicant provides the additional information we require."
A spokesman for Celtique Energie said the company was planning on submitting the additional information requested and that it was normal practice for an authority to seek further details.
The application received an unprecedented number of comments, a spokeswoman for the national park authority said.
Last summer, large-scale protests broke out at another exploration site in southern England in the first signs of local opposition to shale gas extraction plans.
A shale gas boom in the United States has transformed the energy market there by bringing down prices and paving the way for it to become a net exporter of gas. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jane Baird)