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Fracking debate intensifies as North Yorkshire Council gives green light

North Yorkshire County Council has approved fracking tests near the village of Kirby Misperton, despite receiving more than 4,000 objections.
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It means fracking for shale gas will take place in Britain for the first time in five years.

 

The council received 4,375 objections and 36 letters in support of UK firm Third Energy’s plans at its existing well KM8, half a mile from the Ryedale village. Frack Free Ryedale said over 1,000 people attended an anti-fracking rally outside County Hall, Northallerton, on Friday 20 May and many returned on Monday to hear the ruling.

 

The council’s planners backed the proposal and the planning committee approved the plans by seven votes to four. The decision on Monday night followed two days of debate over issues including water contamination, earthquakes, impact on tourism and noise and traffic pollution.

 

The firm argued there would be no significant disturbance from noise and that risks to water were ’virtually zero’.

 

They denied fracking would affect tourism. Local residents disagreed, pointing to the last UK tests on the Fylde coast in 2011, which were linked to local earthquakes.

 

Campaigners against the proposal, more than 70 of whom addressed the committee, said their fight was not over. Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale said they were considering a judicial review.

 

Ian Conlan of Frack Free Ryedale said: “It is just appalling that despite the strength of public opposition to this application it has been pushed through by councillors, who are being told what to do by a government that’s determined to support the fracking industry.

 

“What faith can local people have in democracy if the members of the planning committee can just completely ignore both the strength of local opinion and the sound planning grounds that objectors have raised? It is a sham.”

 

Ryedale District Councillor Di Keal said: “This is a shocking and frankly outrageous decision that flies in the face of local people’s views as well as those of Ryedale District Council where this site is situated, every town council in the district and many parish councils.

 

“Having listened to the impassioned speakers against the application, who gave perfectly sound planning reasons why the committee should reject this application, it astounds me that they trampled on their views and granted permission to a company that wants to industrialise Ryedale.”

 

Rasik Valand, chief executive of Third Energy said: “This approval isn’t as a victory but is a huge responsibility. We’ll have to deliver on our commitment, made to the committee and to the people of Ryedale, to undertake this operation safely and without impacting on the local environment.

 

“The purpose of this application is to establish if the gas seen in some samples in this hybrid sandstone shale formation can be made to flow, at what process conditions and for how long. If this flows then we’ll need to assess how it performs for some months before making any conclusions.”

 

View Third Energy’s plans here.


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