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White rose residents say no to fracking

Ruth Hayhurst photo
Ruth HayhurstUK
In this week's newsletter we report from the meeting of North Yorkshire County Council which is deciding what could be the first fracks for shale gas in the UK for five years.

Wearing button holes of Yorkshire white roses, more than 60 people gave evidence to North Yorkshire County Council today against Third Energy’s plan to frack in Ryedale.

They spoke for more than eight hours about threats to tourism, farming and health and the risks of air and water pollution, noise, heavy lorries and damage to landscape and wildlife.

Many were local residents. They included a professor, a baroness, a knight of the realm, a former climate diplomat and a current climate scientist, four county councillors and four representatives of parish councils, as well as doctors, researchers and local business people.

Third Energy wants to frack its existing KM8 well at a site less than a mile from the village of Kirby Misperton. Planning officers have recommended the application is approved. But there have been more than 4,000 objections. (More details in our guide to the planning meeting.)

We’ve picked out some of the key points from today’s evidence. We also talked to some of the 500+ anti-fracking campaigners who gathered for a rally in the grounds of county hall in Northallerton.

A decision is expected on Monday after councillors hear from their planning officer and supporters of the proposal.


An approval here could kick-start the industry - just stop fracking! Janet, Ryedale (left)

"Fracking is the crack cocaine of fossil fuels – one well is never enough." 
Adela Pickles

"Over recent years I have challenged everyone to tell me where I can see for myself anywhere in the world an example of friendly fracking. I have not had one reply." 
Sir Richard Storey, Settringham, near Malton

"Fracking is only worthwhile if done intensively on an industrial scale." Robert Laycock

Third Energy’s application

You are charged by the people of Ryedale to take account of the impacts on the environment and the local economy. I believe you have been asked to take too much on trust. I think there are grounds to delay or refuse this application. Baroness McIntosh, former Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton

"There is a high degree of uncertainty about whether KM8 will produce and for how long because it is the first well to be fracked and it is a horizontal, rather than a vertical well". Matt Farrelly, oil and gas professional and consultant to Frack Free Ryedale

Location of the KM8 site

"Where would you choose a site for fracking? I'm fairly certain you wouldn't choose a site downwind of a small village with narrow roads, next to a public right of way and a water course leading into a protected area". Steve Maslen, planning consultant

Opposition to the plans

"Members of frack free Ryedale are not professional campaigners, as had been claimed by supporters of the scheme. Many have not campaigned on any issues before. Many are hard-working parents. They feel there has been a campaign against them and they have been accused of scaremongering". Katie Atkinson, landscape consultant to Frack Free Ryedale

First fracked well for five years

"Please don’t let Ryedale to be the first area to allow fracking. Do not devastate our area. Listen to our local residents. This could ruin our way of life. Let democracy take place. Refuse this application". Lyndsay Burr, county councillor representing Kirby Misperton on North Yorkshire County Council


"I'm here to show solidarity - we've been through this in Lancashire" Muriel, Longridge (left)

"Fracking invariably changes the character of the places that accommodate it. It is for you and you alone to judge whether that would be a desirable change or an undesirable one. But as it takes its course, if it turns out to be unwelcome, people will surely say: “this began in Kirby Misperton; that’s where we could have stopped it”. John Ashton former climate diplomat for the UK government


"Are you, as representatives of our beautiful county, prepared to take away jobs in tourism and farming? I trust you are not". Steve Pearse, resident of Great Barugh under a mile from the proposed fracking site.

"At a time when the British public are beginning to rediscover the beauty of its countryside why would you want to bring this blight and take the risk of sacrificing it all?" Tony Finn, Worsley Arms, Hovingham, Ryedale


"On which planet could this be considered to benefit the local area and economy?" Jules Marley, CPRE, referring to plans to stack shipping containers 9m high as a noise barrier


"When the Police and Crime Commissioner was asked about the 5mph speed restriction on the Costa Beck bridge, she laughed. It would appear planners have not consulted with the police on this issue". Ian Conlon, who lives five miles away and whose bedroom is in direct line of sight to the well

"It staggers me that the traffic survey [for Third Energy] was carried out before the opening of Flamingo Lane in March. Stephanie Pride, employee at Flamingo Land

Threat and risk

Hannah, Kirby Moorside (above)

"I, as a local resident have no confidence in their [Third Energy’s] capacity to act in an open, transparent and competent manner with this highly risky and potentially dangerous process."
Nicky Mason, speaking about an incident involving the venting of 70,000 cubic metres of methane at a Third Energy site in Ryedale not reported to the Environment Agency within the required timeframe

"You must determine what level of risk is reasonable to ask of a community. You have to decide about what the science tells you about the distance of a well from a home." Dr Tim Thornton, district councillor and retired GP


“Health worries, especially for young children and during pregnancy”. Nina and Bea, Wooton le Hole (left)

"Does the committee want to wait five years to see who has fallen ill? And how will you know? Don't let this industry get a foot in the door. It all starts with one well." 
Rev Graham Cray, Kirby Misperton


"There's a complete lack of democracy and disregard for the countryside" Christine, Lastingham

"If central government wants to go all out of shale it should take responsibility for it… Do not be a stalking horse. Refuse this application with one voice and return this application to where it belongs, central government". Philip Tate

"Your hands may be tied so that you cannot act for us direclty in some issues, but in matters where you are able to act for us - please - act for us and use whatever means are left to you to refuse this application." Cllr Erica Rose, Helmsley Town Council

"You have a moral duty to take into account a wider set of issues. ...Your moral responsibility make this the most important decision of your careers." David Adam, Ryedale resident

Climate change

"The world is not going very far very fast on climate change. Developing shale gas would lock the methane in for decade". Dr James Hansen (read by Brian Appleby)

[If you grant this] "Your climate change policy will be in tatters and completely untenable." Edward Arthur, local resident who retired to Ryedale

"We need to use the supplies [0f gas] that we have at present. It is perverse and genocidal to search for more". Parish councillor Annette Hudspeth


[On bats around the KM8 site] "No one had bothered to look. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Kieran Sheehan, ecological consultant for Frack Free Ryedale

Ruth Hayhurst is the only journalist reporting from the front lines of fracking in the UK. You can read daily updates on

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