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First UK fracking tests for five years on track after North Yorkshire vote

24 May 2016

North Yorkshire County Council approved shale gas tests in the village of Kirby Misperton, in Ryedale district, in a vote on May 23, where UK company Third Energy had applied to carry out hydraulic fracturing of shale beds at an existing well. There have been high profile protests against the use of this technique in the UK, most recently in Lancashire where councillors rejected two applications last year.

Third Energy claims its KM8 site is well screened and unobtrusive - Image: Third Energy
Third Energy claims its KM8 site is well screened and unobtrusive - Image: Third Energy

Anti-fracking campaigners outside County Hall in Northallerton raised fears of catastrophic seismic activity, health problems and pollution during a rancorous two-day hearing. The council received 4,375 objections to the company’s plans to frack for shale gas at an existing two-mile deep well near Kirby Misperton, known as KM8.

The council’s own officials backed the proposal earlier this month and the planning committee formally gave it the go-ahead by a majority of seven votes to four on May 23.

The UK Government will welcome the development. Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2014 that the government was “going all out for shale” and the UK energy secretary, Amber Rudd, said after the general election that she would “deliver shale”.

Third Energy executives and experts have held meetings in the county to dispel scaremongering by protesters. They claim there would be no significant disturbance from noise, and that the risks of water contamination and earthquakes were virtually zero.

Chief executive Rasik Valand said the company now had a "huge responsibility" to deliver on its commitment "to undertake this operation safely and without impacting on the local environment."

Ken Cronin chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it was the right thing to move towards renewable energy but it could not happen overnight. He also said that whatever the type of energy the country attempted to produce there were local planning objectors: "The situation is that in the UK we have a problem whether it's wind or shale. Getting through the planning system involves a number of objectors."

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