More arrests as anti-fracking protests continue in North Yorkshire

A demonstrator is restrained by police in Kirby Misperton on Tuesday.
A demonstrator is restrained by police in Kirby Misperton on Tuesday.

Four more people have been arrested this afternoon as anti-fracking protests continue in a North Yorkshire village.

Last-ditch attempt to stop fracking over fears for bats
North Yorkshire Police have now arrested a total of seven people in the past two days as campaigners attempt to prevent specialist equipment getting on to the site of a planned test-fracking site in Kirby Misperton.

At 12.40pm this afternoon, a 53-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wilful obstruction of a highway, and having an article with intent to destroy or damage property, while a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wilful obstruction of a highway.

A 54-year-old woman was arrested at about 2.20pm on suspicion of wilful obstruction of a highway and another woman was arrested at the same time on suspicion of obstructing a person engaged in lawful activity, and possessing a bladed article in a public place.

Superintendent Lindsey Robson, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We'll continue to take a neighbourhood policing approach to protests – that means we will talk to people, to explain what is acceptable in terms of safety and reasonableness, and ask them to work with us to make this a safe and peaceful protest. We would rather talk to people and persuade them to move, than have to make arrests."

It follows three arrests yesterday, which resulted in two men, including a 69-year-old pensioner, receiving cautions.

Protesters have vowed to continue their demonstrations ahead of work starting on the site later this year.

A representative of a ‘protection camp’ set up by campaigners on the outskirts of the village said: “We will not accept this sacrifice to our way of life. We will continue to protect our countryside and our democracy; one in which the will of the people is heard.”

Company Third Energy has started moving equipment onto the site in Ryedale in preparation for test-fracking beginning later this year and on Tuesday dozens of the protesters tried to prevent vehicles getting to the location by sitting in front of the gates and taking part in ‘go-slow’ walks in front of lorries.

Third Energy intends to conduct around eight weeks of testing whether the controversial process of extracting gas from shale is commercially viable. The tests will see the company attempt the fracking process at five different depths using an existing two-mile deep well.

But the process of moving equipment on site is expected to take a few weeks and the company requires its hydraulic fracture plan to be approved by the Oil & Gas Authority, the Environment Agency and the Secretary of State before work can begin.

While there are no other current applications for fracking in the local area, the company has six existing well sites in Kirby Misperton, Malton and Pickering where it has said it may consider “further appraisal activity”.

Fracking, a process backed by the Government, is designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock using a high-pressure water mixture. But environmentalists have concerns about chemicals escaping and contaminating groundwater.

The plan by Third Energy to frack for shale gas in Kirby Misperton was approved in May 2016 by North Yorkshire County Council.

Villagers tried to block the decision in the High Court but the application was dismissed just before Christmas.

The Kirby Misperton application was the first to be approved in the UK since 2011, when tests on the Fylde coast in Lancashire were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.

Kirby Misperton protests and the fracking frontline