New government measures regarding shale gas planning applications will give ministers the power to crack down on councils that delay making a decision.
Local authorities will forfeit the right to approve or reject an application if they do not reach a decision within the current 16-week statutory timeframe, unless they are granted an extension.
The announcement comes a month after Lancashire County Council’s rejection of Cuadrilla’s fracking applications following more than a year of deliberations.
Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “We can’t continue with a system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end, which doesn’t give certainty to industry and which could spell the end of a potentially vital national industry. We need a system that delivers timely planning decisions.”