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Yorkshire fracking permission makes waves

Published: Thursday, 26th May 2016

North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee votes in favour of exploratory fracking scheme…

North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee has incensed many environmentalists as well as residents in and around Kirby Misperton by granting oil and gas company Third Energy planning permission to undertake exploratory fracking tests. The permission was granted for tests to take place at an existing borehole site where conventional drilling for on shore gas has been underway for years.

The fracking proposal involves an existing two-mile deep well called KM8, that was drilled in 2013. The decision to give fracking the green light came after two days of deliberations.

Planning officials had recommended approval. The committee voted by seven to four to give the scheme the green light. Now a legal challenge to the consent is in prospect.

In a statement after the decision the council said the planning committee was satisfied that “mitigation of the effects of the development with regard to safeguarding the natural environment, protected species and habitats, the amenity of local residents, the protection of ground and surface water quality and traffic management can be achieved through the discharge of the planning conditions.”

Rasik Valand, Chief Executive of Third Energy said: “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 will need to assess how it performs for some months before making any conclusions.”

This is the first fracking application to be approved since activity stalled following work on the Fylde coast was found to be the probable cause of minor earthquakes. Fracking is a way of extracting oil or gas from rocks by pumping liquid into them at high pressure.

"This has been a very difficult decision for the council to make and we know it is a difficult decision for the people of this county" said Richard Flinton, North Yorkshire's chief executive.

"We are proud of our beautiful county which attracts so many visitors and maintains a thriving tourism industry. The decision taken does not have a bearing on future decisions. Each application of this nature will be decided upon based on its own merits."

Roger Milne