Shale gas explorers will be able to drill test sites without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level. "Recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow against a statutory time frame of 16 weeks where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required", the statement reads.
"The Government remains fully committed to making planning decisions faster and fairer for all those affected by new development, and to ensure that local communities are fully involved in planning decisions that affect them", the ministers said.
A Shale Environmental Regulator will be created to focus exclusively on the planning process but will have no role in the consideration or determination of planning applications or the appeals process.
Clark said the United Kingdom had a duty to look at fracking as North Sea gas production declined and the country became more reliant on imports.
As a result, the government has chose to set up one single body - the Shale Environmental Regulator - which will bring the regulators together "to act as one coherent face for the public, mineral planning authorities and industry."The regulator is set to be established this summer".
Greenpeace UK's head of politics Rebecca Newsom accused ministers of "trampling over democracy to prop up this collapsing industry".
Increasing reliance on imported gas as Britain's domestic North Sea output declines is one of the driving forces behind government support for hydraulic fracturing, which involves extracting gas obtained from rocks broken up or fractured with water and chemicals at high pressure. "Communities and their local councils across the United Kingdom have said no in every way they can, but the government have turned a deaf ear to everyone who doesn't own fossil fuel company".
But they stressed that the government would take an increasingly tough line with authorities that delayed fracking planning decisions. "Britain's fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life".
She said shale gas had the potential to lower energy prices, although opponents of the technology say there is no evidence this will happen in the UK.
However, shale gas developers such as IGas, Cuadrilla and Ineos, welcomed the measures, particularly those to speed up the planning process.
"As a result, the United Kingdom is becoming ever more dependent on Russian and Middle Eastern gas, with British money funding foreign powers at the rate of £500m a month instead of generating jobs and tax revenues in this country", she said.