- From the section York & North Yorkshire
Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside a council meeting where a decision on whether to approve fracking for the first time in England since a ban was lifted in 2012 is expected.
The hearing is considering plans by Third Energy to frack for shale gas at its existing site near Kirby Misperton.
Over 100 people are due to address the council meeting in Northallerton.
Third Energy said it had been producing gas “safely and discreetly” for over 20 years and had a “responsible approach”.
‘Most controversial application’
North Yorkshire county councillors were greeted by placard-waving protesters as they arrived for the planning committee meeting at County Hall.
John Giles/PA Image caption
Opening the meeting, committee chairman Peter Sowray said: “It’s plainly obvious from the attendance today and by the amount of correspondence received by members and the press coverage both locally and nationally, that this is by far the most controversial application that we have had to deal with.”
Ryedale councillor Lyndsay Burr, who was the first scheduled speaker, told committee members: “Ryedale residents do not want to be the first in the UK to allow fracking”.
She said she feared giving fracking the go-ahead would “devastate the area” and ruin its reputation as a tourist destination.
John Giles/AP Image caption
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
Last week, officers at North Yorkshire County Council recommended the granting of permission for UK firm Third Energy’s application.
Thousands have since contacted the authority with representations, with the vast majority against the proposal.
The Government has said it is going “all out for shale” to boost energy security and the economy.
John Giles/PA Image caption
Opponents fear it could cause problems including water contamination, earthquakes and noise and traffic pollution.
Environmentalists have also warned pursuing new sources of gas is not compatible with efforts to tackle climate change.
No fracking has taken place in the UK since 2011, when tests on the Fylde coast were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.
Since then, two high-profile applications to frack in Lancashire have been rejected by councillors and are now the subject of appeals.
Third Energy Image caption
The meeting, held at County Hall, is likely to continue on Monday due to the number of people who have applied to speak.
If approved, fracking could start by the end of the year.
Third Energy has licences to produce gas in North Yorkshire and offshore in the North Sea.
In 2013 it drilled an exploratory well near the village of Kirby Misperton, close to the North York Moors National Park.
Rasik Valand, chief executive of Third Energy, said: “The Planning Officer’s positive recommendation comes after very detailed scrutiny of the application by the Planning Officer and statutory consultees and taking into account representations by members of the public and other groups.
“Third Energy has been drilling wells, producing gas and generating electricity safely and discreetly in North Yorkshire for over 20 years and we will continue to maintain the same responsible approach in the future.”
At the meeting examining proposals to start fracking in North Yorkshire, written contributions have now come to an end and the chairman, Conservative councillor Peter Sowray, has adjourned proceedings until 09:30 on Monday morning.
Concluding, Councillor Sowray said it had been a “very interesting” day and thanked all the contributors.
He added that those councillors who will make their final decision next week will have “many thoughts buzzing around their heads” this weekend, and said it had been “a very good day”.
So, that’s it from us too. We’ll be back from 09:00 on Monday as we report live from the second day of proceedings at County Hall in Northallerton when it’s expected a final decision on the plans for Kirby Misperton will be made.
by James Reed
Controversial plans to frack in North Yorkshire could have a devastating impact on the local economy, a former MP has warned.
Baroness Anne McIntosh warned granting permission to use the controversial mining method could turn Ryedale into “an industrial site on a massive” scale.
She was among more than 80 speakers opposing the plan to frack close to the village Kirby Misperton, as councillors began considering whether to give the go-ahead to the proposal today.