UK shale gas extraction
There are 1.3tn cubic feet of shale gas reserves under Yorkshire and Lancashire in the UK, according to the British Geological Survey.Reuters

Growth of the shale gas sector in the UK has been tackled by long waiting periods for permits to use fracking techniques, which are roundly opposed by environmental campaigners.

Bloomberg reported that the waiting period get a drilling license in the UK is six months, compared to seven days in Texas.

Britain has been more pro-shale than almost all members in the European Union, and has lifted a moratorium on fracking in December 2012. But the UK is yet to get a single application for fracking permission, despite offering some of the world's richest exploration tax breaks for shale gas.

"The UK would like to lead the shale gas revolution in Europe," said Paul Stevens of Chatham House in London.

"But, if the UK can't get this going, partly because of the environmental opposition, then that means Europe is even less likely to see results."

The Bowland basin, extending across an area of northern England that includes Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield, is expected to contain as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the British Geological Survey. That's enough to meet demand for almost 50 years, based on an extraction rate similar to US fields.

Rising Opposition to Fracking

While the government is supporting shale-gas exploration as North Sea reserves decline, local authorities who have to grant permission for wells are unable to do so due to protests from anti-shale activists.

Environmentalists in the UK are opposed to fracking, which involves drilling holes deep into the ground and then using high-pressure liquid to fracture shale rocks to release gas trapped inside. Environmentalists have criticised the effect the method would have on the surrounding areas and have claimed it could have dire effects over the public's health.

However, rising global prices for fuel and depleting reserves are forcing many countries to resort to fracking. Shale gas has already transformed the US energy market by lowering gas and coal prices.

Prime Minister David Cameron had pledged to repatriate thousands of jobs from low-cost countries in Asia back into the UK as Britain steps up its effort to develop its infant shale gas industry.