Northern Ireland's planning minister has announced a review of the rules on oil and gas exploration.

Two licence applications are currently under consideration by her department, covering large areas of the north.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said the review would also look at the controversial issue of fracking.

There is currently a presumption against fracking in Northern Ireland planning law until there is "sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts".

Fracking is the process by which high pressure liquid is forced into rock to release trapped gas.

Concerns have been expressed about its environmental and geological impact.

A company had planned to use the technique in Co Fermanagh but later adapted its application to remove the process.

Announcing the review, Ms Mallon said the planning system had a role to play in helping to mitigate climate change and protect the environment.

"Following on from the latest UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, I believe it is important to ensure that the planning approach to this category of development remains appropriate in the context of the climate emergency and my ambitions for a green recovery from the Covid pandemic."

She has also announced that pending the outcome of the review, councils, which also have planning powers in Northern Ireland, must refer any decision to grant future petroleum exploration licences to her department.