Halt fracking decision, urges Tory peer

North Yorkshire Police work to free protestors chained together in the entrance to Third Energy's fracking site in Kirby Misperton in September. Picture Tony Johnson.
North Yorkshire Police work to free protestors chained together in the entrance to Third Energy's fracking site in Kirby Misperton in September. Picture Tony Johnson.
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CONSERVATIVE PEER Anne McIntosh has urged Energy Secretary Greg Clark to put on hold any decision to allow fracking at Kirkby Misperton, until cast-iron assurances on safety and the environment are given.

Lady McIntosh of Pickering, former MP for Thirsk and Malton, wrote to Secretary of State last week saying: “There are grave concerns by local residents of which you should be aware.

“They are extremely concerned about the environmental impact of these works. They fear for their health, safety of the water supply, the value of their homes and the disruption from lorry movements.”

She added that Third Energy, the company behind the venture, had changed their proposed working practices “going back on their commitment to treat and re-use flowback fluids”.

“This will result in up to two and a half times more waste being created which will clearly have a huge impact on the number of lorry movements needed to transport this waste for treatment,” she said.

“I understand that out of 24 months of groundwater monitoring, only three comply with the demands of the environmental permit,” she said. “This is well short of the 12 months of monitoring legally required before fracking can commence.

“Without proper monitoring before fracking starts, baseline levels may never be established and any subsequent pollution cannot be adequately measured.

“I need hardly state that any groundwater pollution would have very serious ramifications for the health of the local population the local environment and the North Yorkshire rural economy due to its reliance on food production.”

She said that a new report on the fracking found “very high” levels of methane in nearby groundwater.

She urged Mr Clark: “I know that you are currently deciding whether to grant permission for the fracking phase to begin at the Kirby Misperton site. Given the very real concerns and the outstanding regulatory issues, I would urge you most strongly to withhold your consent until these issues are resolved.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We have been clear that shale development in the UK must be safe and environmentally sound and we have a strong regulatory system in place.

“The Department has received evidence relating to Third Energy’s site in Kirby Misperton and we will respond appropriately in due course.”

Third Energy was granted planning permission for the fracking site at Kirby Misperton in May 2016 - but it has not yet received the final consent it needs from the Government to begin to frack its KM8 well.

Yesterday, the company confirmed it had completed work on the well and has started worked on laying out the frac spread ahead of the planned hydraulic fractures.

“We remain on track to complete the operations before the end of the year,“ he added.

Last month, anti-fracking protestors scaled a 60 foot-high rig at the fracking site.

Dozens of arrests were made throughout September and October in connection with protests, which have also seen protestors obstructing the roads around the site.

In response to Lady McIntosh’s concerns, a spokesperson for Third Energy said it is confident that there has been no failure to carry out monitoring in accordance with its environmental permit.

He added: “As a responsible and established operator, Third Energy makes every effort to adhere to all regulatory requirements. A Government review concluded that “the health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation, and that is Third Energy’s experience with the operations at Kirby Misperton.”