District council bans fracking for five years

Ryedale District Council in Yorkshire has voted for a five-year moratorium on fracking.

As previously reported by Public Sector Energy, the gas firm Third Energy has submitted a planning application to test for shale gas at an existing well site near Kirby Misperton, which is in the district of Ryedale, to North Yorkshire County Council.

The county council is currently running a public consultation into Third Energy’s proposals, but members of Ryedale District Council voted in favour of a moratorium at a full council meeting on 8 October.

“The eyes of the country and the world will be watching with interest in the decision-making process and we have yet to debate this issue,” the motion put to councilors states.  

“It is complex and of great significance for the future of Ryedale at many levels not least its economy, jobs, health and potential costs to the council.  This process is now in its 11th hour so we must avoid losing our voice by taking it past midnight.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s public consultation on Third Energy’s proposal finishes on 14 October and the local authority is expected to make a final decision on the plans next month.

Under new government rules, if a council fails to make a decision on a fracking planning application within the alloted timespan, it could lose the right to make them in the future.

Third Energy said in a statement: “There are no grounds for the Ryedale district vote. Respected and internationally respected bodies and experts, including Public Health England, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have all concluded that the risk of fracking can be managed in a well-regulated environment, which we have in the UK.

“Gas has been produced safely and securely in Ryedale for over two decades. We trust that the NYCC will consider all the facts before it makes its decision. We will continue engaging with the local communities to inform them of the plans and how any potential risks are managed to ensure minimum impact to the public and the environment.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues