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Fracking: British government has opened the way for energy firms to explore for shale gas

The British government has reopened the way for energy firms to explore for shale gas, three years after seismic tremors led to the suspension of fracking.

Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock says shale gas has the potential to improve energy security but stresses national parks will be protected.

He said Monday that, "Done right, speeding up shale will mean more jobs and opportunities for people and help ensure long-term economic and energy security for our country."

On Monday, firms will be able to bid for licenses to start exploring, though further permits are required for drilling.

Drilling for shale gas, a process known as fracking, caused two earthquakes near Blackpool, a town in northern England, in 2011 with magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5. That led the government to stop operations.