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24.05.16

North Yorkshire CC approves controversial fracking plans

North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee has approved plans for Third Energy to undertake fracking for shale gas in Ryedale, despite local opposition.

Hundreds of protestors gathered outside Northallerton’s County Hall, where the committee sat for two days and listened to over 100 speakers before deliberating the planning officer’s report and recommendation to accept Third Energy's application.

It is the first fracking application approved since 2011.

The council added that it had not taken the decision to grant approval for fracking in the vicinity of Kirby Misperton lightly, and that many objections had been expressed about significant and adverse impacts upon the environment and upon climate change. 

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However, it added that the planning committee is satisfied that in this particular application, 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.

“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 CEO. “We are proud of our beautiful county which attracts so many visitors and maintains a thriving tourism industry.  We have no intention of jeopardising those qualities and our rural industries and livelihoods.”

Opponents are, however, expected to look at whether they have legal grounds to challenge North Yorkshire County Council’s decision.

Simon Bowens, Yorkshire and Humber campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said:  “This is an absolute travesty of a decision but the battle is very far from over. Seven out of 11 North Yorkshire county councillors voted to approve this fracking application in Ryedale, ignoring the objection of Ryedale District Council itself, as well as thousands of local residents and businesses. 

“Despite this decision, public support for fracking is plummeting as Wales, Scotland and countries across Europe have suspended it. The risks to people’s health and the environment are unacceptable and we will fight on.”

Rasik Valand, CEO of Third Energy, thanked the county council for making the “positive determination”.

“I know that this not a decision that they have taken lightly, especially given the technical complexities and number of presentations made,” he said. “I would also like to thank the Planning Department and Officer for their professionalism and scrutiny.” 

Industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it welcomes the decision that has been taken by North Yorkshire County Council, which it says helps to “dispel many of the misleading claims that have been made about this application, as well as the process of hydraulic fracturing more generally”.

(Images: c. John Giles)

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