Bank bosses challenged over plans for hundreds of fracking wells

HUNDREDS of people are expected to attend an anti-fracking protest as the banking giant behind the plans pledged to abide by the rules if the region’s first controversial scheme is given the go-ahead.

Monica Gripaios, from Ryedale, challenged the board of Barclays at its AGM over plans to frack at 19 wells across the district.

Organisers of the rally in Malton on Saturday says they expect it to be the biggest of its kind ever to be held in the county.

It comes after local resident and Barclays shareholder Monica Gripaios quizzed bosses at its annual general meeting in London over plans by Third Energy, which is 97 per cent owned by a private equity arm of the bank, Barclays Natural Resource Investments.

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The retired restaurateur, from Hovingham, questioned how plans for potentially hundreds of fracking wells off 19 well-heads squared with their citizenship plan and “seeming concern for community, business and the environment.”

She said: “I feel really distressed about it. I had a small restaurant before I retired and know how much Ryedale depends on tourism. This is not good news for the economy or farmers. This is unproven science. The fact fracking companies will largely self regulate is highly worrying.

“They just said they would abide by the regulations and wouldn’t be doing anything that doesn’t conform to all the regulations. But I think they just gave me a slick, predictable response.”

Barclays said Third Energy had been drilling and producing gas in the region for over 20 years and had an “excellent” environmental and safety record. Future shale gas extraction would be subject to the planning process, including environmental assessment and public consultation.

The rally starts at Norton Skate Park at noon, before heading through Malton town centre for speeches at Castle Gardens.