Green light for fracking in Yorkshire despite massive opposition


First drilling in five years to go ahead on Yorkshire moors

NORTH YORKSHIRE councillors have given the green light to fracking tests despite thousands of local objections.

Protestors gathered outside the County Hall yesteday [Monday 23 May], The Guardian reported, as councillors debated whether to permit Third Energy to conduct ‘fracking’ tests. This is the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is temporarily banned in Scotland but now will take place in England.

The planning committee voted seven to four in favour of the fracking application. Drilling will now begin near the village of Kirby Misperton. 

The committee heard that North Yorkshire county council had received 4,375 letters of objection, and 36 letters in favour of the proposal, but the Conservative-dominated committee backed the proposals regardless. 

Read more: What is happening with the SNP and fracking? 

Campaigners outside the town hall vowed to “redouble efforts” against fracking, which involves the use of high-pressure water injection into rock in order to extract hard-to-reach gas. Proponents of the practice say it is safe and will boost the economy, while opponents have cited environmental and health concerns from Australia and the US, as well as the need to burn less fossil fuels to prevent the destruction of the earth from climate change.

Chief executive of environmental group Friends of the Earth told the BBC: "In 2016 we should not be building new oil and gas structures, we should be moving away from oil and gas as fast as possible."

The UK’s Conservative government has enthusiastically backed shale gas development. In recent years the battle over fracking has focused partly on Lancashire, where test drilling was found to be linked to minor earthquakes, and councillors rejected two further fracking applications. 

Third Energy argued that there would be “no significant disturbance from noise” and accused campaigners of “scaremongering”. 

Fracking was initially planned for vast swathes of Scotland’s central belt, but plans were halted when public pressure pushed the Scottish Government to put a moratorium in place.

Results from the Scottish Government’s inquiries into health and environmental risks are due to be released in the coming months, after which the moratorium may be lifted, or a permanent ban put in place. Newly-elected MSPs were greeted by anti-fracking protestors on their first day in Holyrood last week. 

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser yesterday tweeted his approval of the North Yorkshire decision.



Picture courtesy of Matt Brown