The British Department of Energy and Climate Change published a policy directive meant to guide companies in shale natural gas development.
"These plans cast a dark shadow over many communities across Britain who could now face the threat of fracking in their backyard," Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Tony Bosworth said in a statement Tuesday.
Fracking, known formally as hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling practice used to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations. Some of the chemicals mixed in with the drilling fluid are viewed as threats to the environment.
British Energy Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement Tuesday the natural gas potential from shale reserves in the country could be substantial in terms of the energy and economic benefits.
"It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security," he said. "But we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment, with robust regulation in place."
Friends of Earth said the British government's efforts should be geared toward developing renewable energy.