Drilling licences are granted for possible fracking in Scarborough

Fracking rigs like this one could soon appear in the Scarborough area after drilling licences were awarded to gas companies.
Fracking rigs like this one could soon appear in the Scarborough area after drilling licences were awarded to gas companies.

Two drilling licences have been awarded for possible ‘fracking’ in the Scarborough area, it can be revealed.

Gas companies have snapped up the licences which will enable them to look into the possibility of extracting shale gas in the west of Scarborough.

They include an area near Scalby and vast swathes of land stretching across to Helmsley.

All applications will have to pass planning and regulatory tests before final approval is given by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The controversial process of fracking is already being met with opposition across the country with clashes in Balcombe, West Sussex, where exploratory drilling began last week.

David Cameron, however, insists that the whole of the country should accept fracking and that it will attract “real public support” when they understand the benefits. The process, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph, would not damage the countryside and only cause a “very minor change to the landscape.”

A total of 11 licences for shale gas have been awarded to gas companies in North Yorkshire, mainly in constituencies held by Coalition MPs. It is unlikely all the sites would be fracked as many have the potential to generate conventional gas instead.

The North York Moors National Park site is mainly in Scarborough and Whitby, held by Tory Robert Goodwill. However, most of the licences are in the Thirsk, Malton and Filey constituency of Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the Commons environment select committee.

The areas covered by the licenses granted by the DECC have been mapped out by Greenpeace. According to the map, large parts of the district, which had previously been identified as a hotbed for shale gas, are covered by licenses, including villages such as Ayton, Brompton and Hackness .

Any communities directly affected have been promised £100,000 should commercial extraction become a reality. And one per of revenue from every production site would also go to the local community - a windfall which could net millions of pounds.