Jubilant anti-fracking protesters danced in the street, popped champagne and chanted “Frack-free Lancashire” outside the county hall in Preston after council leaders blocked a contentious drilling campaign by shale gas explorer Cuadrilla.  Among energy executives there was stunned disbelief. For Britain’s shale explorers, hoping to replicate the “fracking” boom in America that has sent US oil and gas output soaring, much was hanging on Cuadrilla’s proposals to drill up to four wells at a site in Little Plumpton, near Blackpool.

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