Swathes of Whitby and Yorkshire could be opened up to energy companies hunting for oil and gas, raising fears among anti-fracking campaigners.
The Government will consult over plans to issue licences covering land on the Yorkshire coast, including land south of Danby and into the North York Moors National Park.
Companies holding PEDL licences have the exclusive rights to explore the area for oil and gas.
Anti-fracking campaigners fear the latest round of licences is a precursor to a wave of applications to use the controversial mining method to extract gas trapped in shale rock.
Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “As part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies, we continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK.
“Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.
“It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls.
“Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use.”
Each PEDL licence covers an area of around 10 square kilometres. The Government confirmed it was ready to issue 27 across the country and was consulting on a further 132 blocks.
Exploration companies already hold PEDL licences in large parts of Yorkshire.
However, firms need further planning and environmental permissions before they carry out work on the ground.
North Yorkshire County Council is currently considering an application from Third Energy to carry out test-fracking operations close to Kirby Misperton, in Ryedale.
Anti-fracking campaigners fear the effect on the area’s tourist industry, agriculture and peaceful day to day life will be devastating.