CUMBRIA County Council says it will not be swayed by financial incentives to grant planning consent for shale gas extraction.

The authority gave its response after the Government said local authorities that gave the thumbs up to fracking – a process of drilling into the ground to extract shale gas – would be able to keep 100 per cent of the business rates they collected from sites.

The amount is double the current figure and could be worth up to £1.7 million a year for a typical site.

A Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) report has identified an area from Levens to Kirkby Lonsdale that could be exploited.

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: “Any financial incentives being offered should not influence decisions on shale gas sites or any other planning applications.”

Lawrence Conway, chief executive of South Lakeland District Council, promised to ‘balance all considerations’ if companies did bid to extract shale gas from the region.

But he said that the national park authority and Cumbria County Council had responsibility for minerals planning and any decision would rest solely with them, though SLDC would be consulted on any planning applications related to mineral extraction.