The first application to extract gas by fracking has been submitted for Yorkshire – at Kirby Misperton, between Malton and Pickering.
Third Energy UK Gas, a gas development and production company, is applying for permission to hydraulically fracture the site.
The company said in a statement that a well, known as KM8, was drilled last year at the existing Kirby Misperton gas field, and as a result, samples were taken at several different depths to assess the hydrocarbon potential.
The announcement has sparked major concerns, with one protest group saying it will do everything possible to block the scheme.
The application, which will be decided by the county council, as the planning authority responsible for mineral extraction, will include widespread consultation, including Ryedale District Council’s views.
Rasik Valand, Chief Executive of Third Energy, said: “Our analysis indicates that there could be a significant new gas reservoir in our North Yorkshire licence area. Having operated in the area for many years, we know the importance of being a good neighbour and we will work in partnership with the local community to develop this opportunity.”
The company said analysis of the gas bearing zones in the deeper section at Kirby Misperton, concluded that they should be appraised further. “To assess their commercial potential, hydraulic fracturing will be used to stimulate has flow from these inter-bedded sandstone and shale sections.”
Mr Valand said: “Third Energy will consult widely with the local community and all relevant regulators during the planning and permitting phase. The first consultation will identify areas of potential environmental impact for the environmental risk assessment for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This will be later followed by wider public consultation on the project, prior to submitting the planning application.”
He added: “As the project involves hydraulic fracturing, the community would receive the pre-agreed community benefit of £100,000 once operations start.”
Third Energy said it had been operating in North Yorkshire for more than 20 years and already produces gas from four fields. “The gas is delivered, via pipelines, for use at the generating station at Knapton that supplies power to the National Grid.”
Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, and chairman of the Government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said: “There will be concern at the environment implications from this development at Kirby Misperton. At the very least I am calling for a full environmental impact assessment to be carried out and the details and conclusions of it to be published.
“Residents will want to know where the huge amounts of water required will come from, and how the contaminated water will be disposed of.
“People really will not look kindly on companies coming into Ryedale with their shaft sinkers and traffic movements to hydraulically frack at depth, potentially impacting on tourism, leaving a legacy of spoilt landscape and ruining the countryside for ever.
Ms McIntosh said the company had given her assurances last year that they neither had the technology nor any intention of hydraulically fracking at depth anywhere in Ryedale.
There was instant re-action to the application news from two members of Ryedale District Council, Councillors Elizabeth Shields and Lindsay Burr.
Cllr Shields said they were putting forward a motion to Ryedale District Council at its meeting on December 16 urging that it calls a public meeting to raise awareness of fracking “as soon as possible”.
“Little is still known about fracking although the major areas of concern seem to be an adverse effect on dwellings in the countryside, the likelihood of underground movement and pollution of water supplies.”
Cllr Burr said: “I have been overwhelmed by the huge appetite from residents for knowledge regarding this subject. Many residents in Ryedale are worried about the potential impact if fracking comes to the district.
She said: “A public meeting would hopefully provide a balanced view so residents can make up their own minds.”
Chris Redston of Frack Free Ryedale said: “We are shocked to heard that Third Energy are applying for permission to frack at Kirby Misperton. Our organisation will do everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening. No amount of bribes to the local council could even begin to compensate for the damage fracking will do to Ryedale and its reputation as a top tourist destination and food producing area.”
• An expert on fracking, Professor Jon Gluyas, is to speak on the controversial subject at Kirkbymoorside Methodist Church Hall on Friday December 12. Also taking part in the presentation at the public meeting which starts at 7pm, will be Sam Almond, Professor Gluyas’s research assistant.