POLICE are considering whether to launch a criminal investigation over objections received by North Yorkshire County Council to a fracking application, The Yorkshire Post has learned.
North Yorkshire Police confirmed it is assessing a complaint about the objections lodged to the planning application to frack at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.
The county council expressed concern last year some objections appeared to have been sent “unbeknown to the owner of the email address or the named person on the letter”.
At the time, the authority said it was ready to refer the matter to police if it became necessary and the police have now become involved.
A letter, seen by The Yorkshire Post, has been sent to all county councillors confirming “we have passed this matter on to North Yorkshire Police, who are investigating”.
The letter asks councillors to pass on any correspondence they have received on the matter “to assist them in this investigation”.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force was “assessing the complaint, but it is not being treated as a criminal investigation at this stage.”
Third Energy’s plans to frack at Kirby Misperton have proved highly controversial.
The county council was due to take a decision last year but it has been postponed and is unlikely to be taken before March.
A new survey suggests opposition to fracking continues to outstrip support, particularly among those who know about the controversial process.
More than half of those who said they knew a lot about fracking were against it, compared to a third who said they were in favour of it, the latest poll tracking attitudes to energy policies has revealed.
Among those who thought they knew a little about it, opposition outstripped support by 40 per cent to 26 per cent, the survey for the Department of Energy and Climate Change found.
Opposition was also higher than support among all those who were quizzed for the survey, with 29 per cent opposed and 23 per cent backing extraction of shale gas through fracking.
Women were more likely to be opposed to it than men, with only 17 per cent backing fracking, compared to 28 per cent of men.
The weak support for shale gas is in contrast to the backing the public shows for renewables, which have faced cuts in Government support, with 78 per cent in favour of technologies such as wind power, solar and biomass, and only four per cent against.
The Government has thrown its weight behind the development of a UK fracking industry arguing it will create jobs and provide a more secure source of energy but has faced sustained public opposition.