US plea to block fracking in North Yorkshire

The meeting to decide on the fracking application is under way
The meeting to decide on the fracking application is under way

A letter from more than 850 elected officials in the American state of New York has been delivered to North Yorkshire County Council urging its members to block an application to frack in Ryedale.

It tells county councillors fracking has not delivered the benefits promised in the United States and communities where it has gone ahead have faced “significant costs”.

But Third Energy, the company behind the Ryedale fracking application, dismissed the letter, insisting there were no parallels to be drawn between what has happened in the United States and how the mining method might be used in the UK.

The letter has been published ahead of today’s meeting of the county’s planning committee where the proposal to frack at a site near Kirby Misperton will be considered.

Written by the Elected Officials to Protect New York anti-fracking group, the letter says: “We are sure that the fracking industry will promise jobs and prosperity in North Yorkshire. We urge you to treat these claims with deep skepticism.

“The experience in the U.S. is that these claims are false and vastly overstated. Meanwhile, local communities are faced with significant costs including road and infrastructure damage, emergency response, heightened crime rates, and lingering contamination and pollution.

“Additionally, fracking threatens to negatively affect existing economic sectors. Like North Yorkshire, New York has strong agriculture and tourism sectors. Fracking puts these at risk.”

Responding to the letter, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire campaigner Simon Bowens said: “The US experience shows that fracking brings big risks for the environment, health and the existing local economy. We don’t want the same impacts in Ryedale, or anywhere else in the UK. North Yorkshire councillors should heed this powerful and timely warning and say no to fracking in Kirby Misperton.”

Fracking has been banned in New York State but the decision has angered some communities who last year threatened to join neighbouring Pennsylvania because they were worried about missing out on the economic benefits.

The industry is credited with cutting energy costs and creating jobs in the US.

The Government has argued a UK fracking industry could provide greater energy security and valuable tax receipts and can be done without any danger to the environment or human health.

A Third Energy spokesman said: “The UK has one of the toughest regulatory regimes in the world, different geology, mineral rights and planning rules to New York, and experts including Public Health England, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and the Royal Society have all warned against extrapolating what has happened in other jurisdictions to the UK, so this letter has no relevance to this application or any other fracking application in the UK.”

The controversy surrounding fracking is expected to attract a large number of protesters to County Hall in Northallerton today. More than 80 speakers are expected to argue against the application at the meeting which could stretch until Monday.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was due to address the protest but it is understood she has had to withdraw because of ill-health.