The Government could decide the fate of hugely divisive fracking proposals in Ryedale after new measures to take decision making away from councils were announced.
Ministers will be awarded the power to decide individual planning applications for fracking sites before the local council has taken a view.
It could mean Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton plans, which are currently sitting with North Yorkshire County Council, could be decided in Westminster rather than county hall in Northallerton.
The plans, unveiled on Friday, will see the Government take over responsibility for all fracking applications from councils which repeatedly delay decisions.
Ministers are worried efforts to start a shale gas mining industry in the UK are being undermined by councils’ delaying decisions but critics claim the Government is trying to bypass legitimate local opposition.
“This fast-tracking fracking announcement has put Councils in an invidious position, and is likely to lead to hurried decisions that ignore local opposition, for fear of being labelled an ‘underperforming council’,” said Frack Free Ryedale’s Chris Redston.
“This announcement shows great disrespect to the people within council planning departments, who work hard to ensure that all voices are heard and correct decisions are made.
“Rushing these applications through against massive public opposition is only going to cause further problems down the line - something that we can ill afford to do when our water, air and public health is at risk.”
Third Energy want to carry out test-fracking in Ryedale, which is considered a prime site to mine.
Prime Minister David Cameron has previously declared the Government is going “all out” for shale gas mining, but plans to kick start the industry have repeatedly come up against tough opposition from campaigners who claim it poses serious environmental risks.
But Communities Secretary Greg Clark said the plans would create jobs, growth and a new energy source
Third Energy said id it expected North Yorkshire to deal with it’s plans “in the same effective and timely fashion” as before.
Ryedale’s MP Kevin Hollinrake is due to embark on a self-funded fracking fact finding mission to America.